Tuesday, March 05, 2002

The other night I woke up and suddenly realised a better way to understand computer games based on the thematic structures of control. I've had the idea of thematic structures for quite a while (Softwaregenrer, 1999), but the cybernetic aspect of control just put them into a better perspective. If we accept the four categories: action (arcade), adventure (RPG), strategy (simulation), simulator (simulation) - the paranthesis indicating an alternative term - we could understand them as different forms of human-computer interactions involving computer semiotics.
Action games are based on control of the timing - not too slow, nor too fast. Adventure games are based on control of the character - not to be, nor not to be, or as Shakespeare would put it: to be or not to be, that is the question! Strategy games are based on control of the resources - not to wasteful, nor to thrifty. Finally, simulator games are based on control of the vehicle - not to advanced, nor to basic; however most simulators are actually action simulators and therefore based on control of timing too.
Games are always based on control of some sort, and thematically structured around winning vs. loosing. Otherwise we should refer to them as play.


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