Videogames and Agency
Videogames and Agency explores the trend in videogames and their marketing to offer a player higher volumes, or even more distinct kinds, of player freedom. The book offers a new conceptual framework that helps us understand how this freedom to act is discussed by designers, and how that in turn reflects in their design principles.
What can we learn from existing theories around agency? How do paratextual materials reflect design intention with regards to what the player can and cannot do in a videogame? How does game design shape the possibility space for player action? Through these questions and selected case studies that include AAA and independent games alike, the book presents a unique approach to studying agency that combines game design, game studies, and game developer discourse. By doing so, the book examines what discourses around player action, as well as a game’s design can reveal about the nature of agency and videogame aesthetics.
This book will appeal to readers specifically interested in videogames, such as game studies scholars or game designers, but also to media studies students and media and screen studies scholars less familiar with digital games.
The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.
1. Understanding Agency
Agency in Game Studies
Agency in Game Design
Toward a Conceptualisation of Agency
2. A Multidimensional Heuristic Framework for Analysing Player Agency
Agency Afforded in Space: The Spatial-Explorative Dimension
Agency Afforded in Time: The Temporal-Ergodic Dimension
Agency Over the Avatar and its Surroundings: The Configurative-Constructive Dimension
Agency and Narrativity: The Narrative-Dramatic Dimension
3. An “Active Cinematic Experience”: Naughty Dog’s Uncharted Series
Naughty Dog and the Uncharted Franchise
Developing Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Agency and a “Cinematic Feel”
4. “A Compelling Story with Choices That Matter”: BioWare’s Mass Effect Series
BioWare and the Mass Effect Franchise
Developing Mass Effect: Andromeda
Narrativity, Eventfulness, and Agency
5. “The World is Your Play-Doh”: System Era Softworks and Astroneer
Independent Games: Definitions and Trends
Agency and Playfulness
Videogames and Agency offers an important contribution to debates around a central concept in Game Studies, providing a new framework to think through the relationship between production context, design and player agency. Using paratextual and textual analysis, Dr Bettina Bódi works adeptly across three engaging case studies to broaden our understanding of how games and their designers afford and constrain player action. This is vital reading for anyone who wants to understand more about one of the key questions in games research.
Dr Nick Webber, Associate Professor in Media, Birmingham City University, UK
Bettina Bódi’s Videogames and Agency is a unique and indispensable book for scholars, students, and game designers. By considering agency as an affordance of videogames that is firmly rooted in their developers’ design ethos, Bódi ties together theoretical perspectives and industry practices of agency. Thoroughly researched, yet immensely readable, the book gives a much needed introduction to a central issue in the study of video games.
Hans-Joachim Backe, Associate Professor, Center for Digital Play, ITU Copenhagen, Denmark