Lecturer in Game Design | PhD Student

Honours Blog

Making a Meaningful Game

I started the project with one main fear about creating Forget-Me-Not: How to portray a deterioration of memory in a way that the player can relate, sympathise and draw an emotive experience from. I have always found games with little to no narration very interesting in their ability to create an emotive, meaningful experience. Games like Limbo by Playdead  manage to create a narrative and emotive connection for the player without any written or spoken text, I wanted to research further into how this is achieved.

To explore how games can achieve this I watched 2 videos by Extra Credits on using mechanics as metaphors in games. These two videos discussed how to get a player to ponder the meaning of a game after it has been played. The Extra Credits video mainly uses an experimental minimalist game titled Loneliness as its point of reference [Link Below]. An important point that was made in the videos was how every player can get a unique experience from an interactive game. By creating a world with set constraints, but allowing enough freedom to explore their own path, a story can be unfolded in a unique way. This open exploration will allow the player to use their imagination to craft a unique story or experience depending on the player's personality and thoughts. This trust in the audience to use their imagination to create and sew together a story is a large point, but the most emotional and engaging experiences are ones which allow the player to understand themselves better.

Loneliness: http://www.necessarygames.com/my-games/loneliness/flash

Another key issue to creating a meaningful game is the requirement to count on the player to want to analyse and immerse themselves in the game world and story. If a player doesn't wish to analyse the objects in the room, then a large chunk of the 'meaning' of the game will be lost (especially if your game is created to trigger self reflection). This lack of investment and loss of meaning will lead to an emotionless experience for the player and lead to the player refusing to play further. Most 'Art Games' require a certain level of openness from the player to analyse and absorb the messages portrayed. Games such as Gone Home get slated by some gamers as not actually deserving the title of being a 'game'. The people who push creating game experiences can be given the title "Game Abstractionalists". These people wish to push the boundaries of what constitutes a game - like in the progression of art - but just like with art, not all forms will be accepted or enjoyed by everyone.

From this information, I can come to an understanding that the emotive gameplay experience that I hope to create by the end of the second semester will come under criticism and not be enjoyed  or appreciated by certain people. Another point of further development will be researching further into how to create meaningful mechanics in a 3D game that can depict the progression Alzheimer's. The biggest problem for project Forget-Me-Not is trying to design and create this experience in a student project with very limited time and only one person (myself).