PhD thesis: D. Pinchbeck, Story as a function of gameplay in first person shooters and an analysis of FPS diegetic content 1998-2007

Dan Pinchbeck, famous for his Dear Esther experimental game, wrote a PhD thesis titled “Story as a function of gameplay in first person shooters and an analysis of FPS diegetic content 1998-2007”.

Abstract: The relationship between game content and gameplay remains underexplored. High level debate about the relative narrativity of games remains common, but there is a gap in the understanding about the particularities of how diegetic objects relates to the business of managing player experience and behaviour at the heart of gameplay. The first half of this thesis proposes a new model for understanding gameplay as a network of affordance relationships which define supported actions. The theoretical focus upon supported actions rather than object characteristics enables a better understanding of the framework of gameplay created by a complex system of interrelated objects. In particular, it illustrates how the essential ludic structure of first-person games can be described in very simple terms, thus defining a discontinuity between complexity of experience and simplicity of structure. It is proposed that story is a primary means of managing this discontinuity to provide an immersive and seamless experience.

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