Machinima & Modding: When the player becomes the creator

Lyonel Zamora


April 18,2017

Since I’m terrible with time and it was too late to do anything creative, I decided to do a plain old hopefully not boring essay! yay! ūüôā

¬†¬†¬†¬† What is Machinima? Machinima is the idea of taking a video game and using it to make a movie. Early machinima relied on users modifying basic data of the demo-files of the game. ‚ÄúA demo file contained recordings of events and user-input happening during a game.‚ÄĚ (ETC Press) Players controlled the characters in real time where as the camera work and the edits were made after in a process called ‚Äúre-camming‚ÄĚ, which just modifies the positions of the cameras. An important aspect of early machinima was that it had to be distributed and played back, meaning that anyone that wanted to watch it had to own the game and had to install any modifications made to the files of the game like new animations, modified textures, and modified character models. ‚ÄúMachinima was effectively presented as a form of game modification.‚ÄĚ (ETC Press) id Software which is the company that released one of the most recognized first person shooters of all time: ‚ÄúDoom‚ÄĚ decided to make the source code available a few years after launch for their game in order to allow players to experiment with it, this led to the growth of Modding and Machinima. These types of tools give the ability to use a game people know and love in order to create a movie, new story, new characters, sometimes even a new game; it opens up the creative possibilities by providing an outline.

¬†¬†¬†¬† Quake II (Famous first person shooter developed by id Software) was released with a set of tools that were made to allow players to do modding and create their own content based on the original game. A well known first person shooter was created using these tools: ‚Äú[T]wo former Microsoft programmers were investing their time and money in a new venture. They called it Valve Software, and without any prior industry experience, Mike Harrington and Gabe Newell were hoping to transform the state of games with a title that would become ‚ÄúHalf-Life‚ÄĚ (1998).‚ÄĚ (K√ľcklich, Julian) Which then was modded and turned into ‚ÄúCounter Strike (1999)‚ÄĚ, one of the most successful online games. Gaming companies started seeing how successful these ‚Äúmods‚ÄĚ were becoming and started to see the benefits of it from an economical perspective.

¬†¬†¬†¬† A mod can extend the shelf life of the product over time. Even though games like Doom, Quake and Half-Life were released many years ago, there is still a very active community dedicated to modding these games. Combining that with the ability to share via the internet, people that have never heard of these games before, years later can discover them through these mods. Modding can also serve as an important source of innovation, modders can come up with new ideas that the original developers did not think of at the time. It also allows a sort of ‚ÄúTrial and error‚ÄĚ model, where modders can experiment with different aspects of the game engine or the games code without any economical consequences unlike the original developers. For example, Counter Strike and the idea of team-based combat. After the success of this game, many products started implementing this same idea. An important point to notice is that all of this was done without the original publisher or developer making much effort in marketing, it was all done by the creators of the mod and the word of mouth through active players. ‚ÄúOnce a brand is established, it becomes quite easy to sell a game ‚Äď as evidenced by the industry‚Äôs growing reliance on film and other licenses.‚ÄĚ (K√ľcklich, Julian) One great example for this would the company Nintendo, which after many years of making games with the same characters, they are still one of the leading companies in the game industry simply because they made such a difference in the history of video games with games like: ‚ÄúThe Legend of Zelda‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúDonkey Kong‚ÄĚ, and ‚ÄúMario Bros‚ÄĚ that any sequel or any game with some type of connection to one of these games tend to sell well. Because of the success of these earlier games, any major deviation can result in a negative impact to the companies economy/image. Modders are essentially allowed to do what they want with the game without having to worry about these economical consequences. Finally, it can also be used as a tool for recruitment and even training. ‚ÄúThe modding community produces highly trained programmers, 3D-artists and animators without the industry having to spend money on training facilities and teachers. The employment of Counter-Strike‚Äôs creator, Minh Le, is a point in case.‚ÄĚ (K√ľcklich, Julian)

¬†¬†¬†¬† In the article by Julian K√ľcklich, he mentions two opinions on why people make mods, one reason being freedom and ‚Äúnot having any company telling you what to do‚ÄĚ and the other one being getting recognition from the gaming companies. One recent example of the latter being a 19 year old highschool graduate. Alexander J. Velicky created Falskaar; one of the most famous Skyrim mods. It included a whole new area to be explored, 20+ hours of content, new spells, new dungeons, even voice acting. Alexanders end goal was to get the attention and to ultimately work at Bethesda (The company that created Skyrim). This mod was his way of reaching out to them, in a way serving as his curriculum. Even though his efforts were acknowledged by Bethesda unfortunately in the end he ended up getting a job at another game company (Bungie). This further proofs that mods can serve as a platform to start off with as an aspiring game programmer/designer. This opens up many doors for people that may not have a ‚Äúformal‚ÄĚ education but want to get their work out there. Alexander is not the only successful case, games like LittleBigPlanet have their own creative community where players share the levels they made using the tools provided by the game. The developer behind LittleBigPlanet 3, Sumo Digital ‚Äúwent as far as to hire entire sections of its development team for the title from the community that formed around the creative platformer series.‚ÄĚ(develop-online)

¬†¬†¬†¬† I have personally experienced the joy of modifying a game to some extent. Many years ago, for Christmas my parents got me a gaming console, the Xbox 360. With the Xbox I received Halo 3 by Bungie, yet again another popular first person shooter. Halo 3 included a ‚ÄúCustom Games‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúForge‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúTheater‚ÄĚ modes. The Forge mode was essentially the place you went to in order to modify things in the game, you had the ability to choose any map of your liking and create essentially anything that you wanted within the limitations of the game. Most of the time this mode was used in order to create mini-games in which you then played on the Custom Games mode. This is where I spent most of my time in. My friends and I used to collaborate together in these mini projects whenever we came back from school. We made puzzle games, racing games, role-playing games and many more. One particular example I remember, was a game we called ‚ÄúOfficers vs Prisoners‚ÄĚ. The premise of the game was that a group of players represented the Prisoners which were trapped in a cell and the other group of players represented the Officers which were on duty keeping an eye on the prisoners. The prisoners then tried to escape using whatever means necessary except for killing the Officers since they had no weapons. This mini game was very common within the Halo community and there were various maps made for it that were already shared online. The inspiration for our own creation was drawn from all of the variations uploaded from the community. This really made me feel like I was part of a developer team, creating semi-original content by borrowing the models, textures and animations from the original game and then sharing with not only my personal friends but with the online community. The Theater mode gave you the ability to record gameplay, move the camera positions around and then share it online or just save it locally for personal use. This was the way people made movies and series with this game. Many gamers used this mode in order to get recognition from the community and even Bungie. A very common and popular thing was to record gameplay of someone doing an amazing feat. For example, getting a 10 kill streak on an online game of Team Deathmatch which was tedious and difficult to achieve. These videos were then shared online and sometimes even made it to Youtube on videos made by the channel ‚ÄúMachinima‚ÄĚ. The videos were compilations of these rare and amazing things players did, this is one of the ways users became popular in the online community.

     These are some of the ways Machinima & Modding have made a mark in video game history. It allows opportunities to be available to many people as the example with LittleBigPlanet and the highschool graduate, Alexander. These tools help both aspiring game programmers/designers equally. Tools like the Forge mode in Halo 3 allow players to not worry about the programming part and just be creative with the space they have. Other tools like Dooms source code can help in the training and understanding of programming. New innovations started to exist and keep being created because of this, for example Half-Life or Counter-Strike which made their mark in history. This all motivates the player to stop being a spectator and start becoming the creator.


Birnbaum, Ian. “Behind Falskaar, a Massive New Skyrim Mod, and the 19-year-old Who Spent a Year Building It.”¬†Pcgamer. PC Gamer, 16 July 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <;.

“ETC Press.”¬†From Games to Movies: Machinima and Modifications | ETC Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <;.

“How Modding Can Land You a Career in Games.”¬†How Modding Can Land You a Career in Games | Latest News from the Game Development Industry. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <;.

K√ľcklich, Julian. “FCJ-025 Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry.”¬†The Fibreculture Journal 05 RSS. The Fibreculture Journal, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017. <;.

P.S – I honestly still don’t know how WordPress works haha.

Machinima & Modding: When the player becomes the creator

Pok√©mon and Diversity in Identity: An Evolving Connection with Pocket Monsters

Katrina-Frances Gattuso

Professor Carolyn Jong

English 255 B ‚Äď Video Games and/as Literature

April 18th 2017


Pokémon and Diversity in Identity: An Evolving Connection with Pocket Monsters


Moving forward from my last analysis, I have decided to take a closer look at the phenomenon of personal identity in relation to the Pokémon franchise. This essay will be a close reading and exploration of Pokémon in relation to the class theme of narratives of subjectivity. In specific, this essay will explore how Pokémon successfully connects creatures with ever-evolving and diverse player identities. In this context diversity of identity refers to personality traits, gender and growing up with technology in North America. I want to stress that this is my own interpretation of Pokémon and why I believe it continues to dominate our culture.

Firstly, I believe that¬†Pok√©mon¬†supplies different platforms of interactivity, including games and cards, because diverse personality needs simply cannot fit into one category. Growing up in the nineties, I was directly exposed to the¬†Pok√©mon¬†phenomenon at the ripe age of seven. Specifically,¬†Pok√©mon¬†cards. I still have an Eevee card from my childhood sitting with my game collection in a plastic sleeve in pristine condition, Eevee’s luscious light ash-brown fluff was an indirect response to my obsession with being a brunette. In addition, my utmost divine memory related to¬†Pok√©mon¬†games was playing¬†the one and only Nintendo 64 game:¬†Pok√©mon¬†Snap. Which brings me to my next point, upon analysis of personal identity in relation to video games, I’ve come to recognize that my own fascination with¬†Pok√©mon¬†Snap was the opportunity to visit each creature in its natural habitat without harming it, and taking photographs of it in order to admire how cute it is. From my own experience, collecting photographs was more appealing than collecting monsters through fights. As a young Canadian girl, I didn’t want my beloved creatures‚ÄĒespecially Eevee‚ÄĒto fight because I couldn’t bare the thought of them being paralyzed, frozen or poisoned. Although¬†Pok√©mon¬†creatures gain strength through battle, it just wasn’t part of my upbringing, so I willingly skipped out on the Game Boy games in order to avoid battle. Therefore, I argue that¬†Pok√©mon¬†takes this intangible personality trait I possess into consideration and provides¬†Pok√©mon¬†Snap as a different way to collect pocket monsters. Author of “Portable Monsters and Commodity Cuteness:¬†Pok√©mon¬†as Japan’s New Global Power,” Anne Allison, explains how we become emotionally attached to imaginary creatures (Allison 382). For example, Allison writes, “Cuteness, as the Japanese cultural critic Okada Tsuneo states, is one thing that registers for all people,” displaying how these fictional creatures are like pets who can be carried around or harmed if we don’t watch over them. Moreover, while playing Pok√©mon¬†Blue for this class, I felt relieved when Professor Oak advised me in advance about my issue with making these creatures fight, “To some people POKEMON are pets,” as this statement satisfied my own personal gaming¬†intentions (Pok√©mon¬†Blue 1998). In this context, my need to satisfy the urge to protect cute creatures from harm directs me toward the Pok√©mon¬†Snap game, where I can collect them all but in photographic form.

Another reason why I believe¬†Pok√©mon¬†successfully appeals to identity lies in its gender diversity. With 150 original creatures to choose from, players can connect and identify with their favorite pocket monsters¬†due to the fact that there are no apparent predetermined genders. Upon playing Pok√©mon¬†Blue, no gender differences amongst the monsters seem to appear, I am simply provided with the Pok√©mon’s name and the opportunity to give it a nickname. When given the possibility to name my birth rival, I named the character WEX simply because I wasn’t interested in whether my rival was male or female, I wanted to step out of context by giving it a neutral name that would be hilarious to complain about as I play the game. Author of “The Problem With Videogames” writes the following quote to showcase a deeper need for gender diversity within video games, “What I want from videogames is a plurality of voices, I want games to come from a wider set of experiences and present a wider range of perspectives (Anthropy 8).” However, I believe that although¬†Pok√©mon¬†is a commercial franchise, it takes this want for variety¬†into consideration by¬†creating pocket monsters with indistinguishable gender. For example, a¬†study conducted by Ogletree, Martinez, Turner and Mason published in 2004; examined children’s views on the roles of gender in Pok√©mon. Results show that, “87% believed that Pok√©mon¬†could be either boys or girls¬†(Ogletree et al 856).” These findings further display how gender is not directly addressed in regards to the pocket monsters themselves which adds to their appeal; anyone can connect and identify with the creature they find most cute and personable. A firsthand example of this is how I thought Diglett and Dugtrio were gravestones when I was young, so I favored them for sympathetic reasons. In being unable to distinguish Diglett’s¬†gender through¬†immediate appearance, my own imagination created a space for this creature that ultimately transcended predetermined character gender and responded to my human emotion; after all from my perspective, a gravestone creature shouldn’t possess a gender.

Finally, I want to discuss how¬†Pok√©mon¬†creatures have evolved with us over time; ultimately molding themselves to appeal to our diverse identities. What I mean by this, is as our desires¬†evolve with technology,¬†Pok√©mon¬†creatures are right there beside us‚ÄĒor in front of us‚ÄĒwithin the virtual space of¬†Pok√©mon¬†GO.¬†By overlapping our physical world with pocket monsters, players literally roam around town looking for these adorable creatures. As Daniel Golding, writer of “Gotta (Publicly) Catch ‘Em All:¬†Pok√©mon¬†GO” states; “Smartphones are blended into our everyday patterns‚ÄĒchecking a social-media feed,” this showcases how Pokemon has made its way into our very own daily lives and habits.¬†Furthermore, Golding writes, “Pok√©mon¬†GO cannot sit idly in your pocket, quietly waiting for when you’re ready to pay attention,” to display a similar need to respond to our virtual pets as we did in the nineties, only now the game requires more dedication¬†as it needs us to be¬†at a certain place on time¬†(Golding 127).¬†¬†My interpretation of¬†Pok√©mon¬†GO in this context, is as I look for these creatures through the filter of my smartphone camera, this gaming¬†platform¬†sparks memories from my childhood allowing me¬†to keep in touch with a younger version of myself, who used to collect them all via Pok√©mon¬†Snap. Not only am I immersed‚ÄĒthrough my own personal player experience in engaging with the interactive and physical space‚ÄĒin trying to catch the creatures that appear on my screen, I am further immersed in trying to locate my all-time favorite creatures including Eevee and Diglett. Ultimately, my interests have evolved, but¬†Pok√©mon¬†molds itself¬†to my modern habits¬†in order to remain relevant in my everyday life.

In closing, I want to emphasize how important it is that¬†Pok√©mon¬†offers different game formats such as¬†Pok√©mon¬†Blue on Game Boy and¬†Pok√©mon¬†Snap on Nintendo 64¬†in order to appeal to varied personalities and identities. Allowing players to fight or snap pictures in order to collect creatures ultimately permits players to interact with monsters in a more personable way. Furthermore, refraining from giving these monsters predetermined genders allows players like myself to interpret these creatures in a way that brings us closer to them in order to understand traits about ourselves. The creatures come in all shapes, colors and forms just as we do and this are a¬†direct reflection of diversity amongst players. Finally, Pok√©mon¬†GO¬†brings us out into the real world to connect with these virtual monsters‚ÄĒand perhaps each other‚ÄĒas¬†we go about on our personal quests to catch¬†‘em all; whoever we are and¬†whichever way we see fit.

Works Cited

Allison, Anne. “Portable Monsters and Commodity Cuteness: Pok√©mon as Japan’s New Global Power.” Postcolonial Studies, vol. 6, no. 3, Nov. 2003, pp. 381-395. EBSCOhost,

Anthropy, Anna. ‚ÄúThe Problem With Videogames.‚ÄĚ Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Dropouts, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form. New York, NY: Seven Stories Press, 2012. 1-21.

Golding, Daniel. “Gotta (Publicly) Catch ‘Em All: Pok√©mon Go.” Metro, no. 190, Spring2016, p. 127. EBSCOhost,

Ogletree, SM, et al. “Pokemon: Exploring the Role of Gender.” Sex Roles, vol. 50, no. 11-12, 2004., pp. 851-859. EBSCOhost,

Games Cited

Pokémon Blue (Nintendo 1998)

Pokémon Go (Niantic 2016)

Pokémon Snap (Nintendo 1999)

Pok√©mon and Diversity in Identity: An Evolving Connection with Pocket Monsters

Tweets Of Mass Destruction


This is trump imagemy game that I made for my final project using Unity 3D. It is a commentary on how I feel that Trump could potentially cause a real world conflict with a tweet. I thought the idea for this game fit perfectly with the procedural rhetoric week we had. I used the games from that week as inspiration for designing this one. Here is the intro text to the game and a link to the game from my google drive if anyone is interested in playing it. You need a PC and it plays best on 1920 x 1080 res, but it not graphically intensive at all. I can post a mac version if the interest is there.

Intro Text:

President Trump, tensions have been rising between the United States and other countries in the last few weeks. Our best diplomats are currently working hard with these countries to come to agreements on many political topics that you needn’t be troubled with. We believe that the terms will be settled in three days, but between now and then we need to tread carefully or risk pushing these countries to extreme measures. It is no secret that you have a limited capacity of intellect and a love for tweeting. This is a dangerous combination when you possess the amount of power that you do. We know we cannot stop you from tweeting, so all we ask of you is this: for the next three days only send out the most terrific and least antagonizing 140 characters possible. Do not go big league. If you can do this we should be able to avoid nuclear war.
God help us all.



Tweets Of Mass Destruction

Overwatch Character Diversity

Frédéric Adam

Instructor: Carolyn Jong

English 255B ‚Äď Video Games and/as Literature

18 April 2017


For my final project I decided to do a video analysis of character diversity in the video game Overwatch. I touch on gender, origin and age in the video, but there is one thing I forgot to mention. The game has 24 characters, but one can be considered their “spokesperson”, or front figure for advertisement, and that is Tracer, a female character. Not only is she female, but she also has a female lover, which is something very rarely portrayed in video games. Overwatch really sets new standards for character diversity to which all future video games can be compared. Blunders like Ubisoft’s comments about female characters being too time-consuming to create are particularly ridiculous when you consider Overwatch’s 11 distinct female characters.

YouTube link to my video:

Overwatch Character Diversity

Visual Rhetoric in Deconstructing Game Worlds

Zachary Duma (27189397)

Professor Carolyn Jong

ENGL 225B ‚Äď Video Games and/as Literature

18 April 2017

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Ian Bogost writes about procedural Rhetoric in his paper Persuasive Games stating “procedural rhetoric entails persuasion ¬≠¬≠¬≠- to change opinion or action” (Bogost, 29), this is to say that a game tell the player the story and convince them it makes sense. Bogost also uses the term persuasive games to say “videogames that mount procedural rhetorics effectively” (Bogost, 46), some games tell their story very well and it is these games that easily convince players of the changes in the game world. There are different ways for a game to convey the story but as games are developing so are the methods they use. Independent games (Indie games) do not have the same corporate ties as the ‘AAA’ industry and as a result the developers have creative freedom to explore new ideas and methods for gaming. Hotline Miami and The Stanley Parable are two games where as the player progresses through the game the world itself deconstructs, the game needs to show the player these changes in the world and convince them that the world is, in fact, changing. These games are examples on how Indie games develop on existing storytelling methods to present their ideas in a unique way. Both games greatly use the environment to show this world deconstruction, Hotline Miami combines this with NPC (non-player character) interaction and The Stanley Parable makes use of a narrator which comments on the player’s actions. Both games are examples of developers experimenting with different ways to present rhetoric in games, in this case through imagery which parallels the development of the game world and progression of the story.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Hotline Miami is a game where the player is a hitman set in a retro 16 bit late 80’s Miami, throughout the game the player runs various missions in which they receive a phone call telling them to go to a location and conduct massacres against the Russian mob. The game runs the player through a set of events for every mission, the player starts off in the protagonists (Jacket’s) apartment where he receives a phone call with coded instructions for his next job. Next Jacket goes and completes his ever more gruesome job, afterwards Jacket always stops somewhere, be it a convenience story or pizza place, and every time the same person in always working at every location you visit, who is also known as Beard.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†The phone call and Beard are sum up the majority of NPC interaction that Jacket takes part in, although fairly simple the game makes the most of it to develop the game world and show Jacket’s ever-increasing insanity. For each level you go through slight variations on this order of events, but then after one stage you will go to the pizza restaurant and all of a sudden there are dead bodies all throughout the pizzeria, but Beard is still working the counter and ready to talk to you and serve you some pizza. Ian Bogost defines visual rhetoric “the practice of using images persuasively” (Bogost, 28), ¬†this is exactly what Hotline Miami is striving to do, these sudden changes in the world are not acknowledged by anyone, there is even a portion where you talk to Beard while he is clearly dead. These visuals passively show the player that the game world is slowly becoming more decrepit, the player can see all this death that may or may not be real. Another point of visual interest is that Jacket’s friend Beard works at every place Jacket visits, he always has something for Jacket and everything from him is ‘on the house’. Even the text in the boxes ebbs and flows with the music creating this surreal picture in front of the player that shows how out of focus Jacket’s world is. Throughout the game Jacket has limited interaction with other characters, most of his conversation is with Beard, who generally makes comments towards Jacket about the game world. This becomes significant at one moment the first time there is a body in the convenience store and Beard starts saying that the body is not real and is the first and only time someone directly says that the world Jacket is seeing is falling apart. This sequence is in place to present the idea of reality being altered to the player, after this all the changes become more extreme. ¬†But because of the lack of verbal interaction much is implied through the changes seen throughout the non-mission areas, and looking at the changes between the various states of the convenience store the player can see and feel the gravity of the characters actions. Jacket is constantly surrounded by death and as a result he sees nothing besides death, he fails to tell reality from imagination.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† The Stanley Parable is quite different from Hotline Miami in tone and game play, but it uses similar methods of storytelling to show the player another game world that deconstructs as the player progresses. In The Stanley Parable, Stanley starts in his office and the narrator for the game tells the player what to do and where to go. But the player actually has the choice to do what the narrator says or not, as Stanley roams through the world the narrator will adapt to the choices the player makes. If the player chooses to explore and take their own path through the world the narrator will eventually reset the world multiple times. As the player chooses their paths the game ‚Äėbreaks‚Äô, things in the hallway start changing and the story the player repeatedly goes through the same opening hallway. ‚ÄúThis is really what we do when we play videogames: we explore the possibility space its rules afford by manipulating the game‚Äôs controls‚ÄĚ(Bogost, 43), The Stanley Parable tests this statement to the letter as the player roams around this office space causing the world to change. Once there was an extra door, another time there were none, and if Stanley progresses down one route he will end up in an empty room full of developer textures.

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†All these changes to the game world emphasis how the players defiance causes the game world to deconstruct, both the visual representation of these changes and the comments from the narrator show this breakdown of the game‚Äôs sequence. This type of story development puts the pace completely in the player‚Äôs hands, the world become more chaotic the more the player rebels and the opposite if the player wishes to simply abide. Bogost states ‚Äúnonverbal transmission, these modes still maintain a tenuous relationship, and are at risk of appearing inferior to verbal discourse‚ÄĚ (Bogost, 20), it is indeed much more likely that a player will realize what is going on if the voice in their ear is describing what is going on but visual rhetoric is still a part of procedural rhetoric. In this example with little context and no audio, one can compare the images of the multiple door scenario and the way it changes throughout the game. From these visual changes one can get idea of how the world changes, how the story progresses, the game intentionally ‚Äėglitches out‚Äô with the player now given new, more complicated choices as a result of rebellion against the game. ¬†¬†

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†‚ÄúProcedurality refers to a way of creating, explaining, or understanding processes‚ÄĚ (Bogost, 2-3), from this one can say that procedural rhetoric is a way of understanding a particular games rhetoric, using rhetoric to refer to aspects of a game‚Äôs story. There are a few ways a video game can help the player understand the events of the game, but just like how video games as a medium for storytelling is quite new, so is the term. As a result the industry as a whole still pushes and strives to develop on new ways to convince the player how a world works. Independent games is an area where this sort of experimentation may take place, with limited ties to a corporate organization developers have more creative liberty to explore and experiment as they see fit. Hotline Miami and The Stanley Parable are two examples of indie games where the developers explored how they could use visual changes in the game world to represent the deconstruction of the game world parallel to the progression of the story. In Hotline Miami ¬†Jacket and the world around fall apart, both become more insane as time goes on and the very fabric of Jackets reality fades in and out of reason and logic to the point at the end where nothing seems real but the locations are the same. However Stanley unlike Jacket has more freedom of movement and choice to what he does and if the player chooses to follow a different path from the narrator the game will show how the player is disturbing the game world as the same areas repeat themselves but are never really the same. Both games rely on this visual representation of events to convey to the player that their action are indeed changing the world around them, this games show that a fresh look on how to tell a story can result in something unique and fantastic.

Works Cited:

Bogost, Ian. Excerpts from ‚ÄúProcedural Rhetoric.‚ÄĚ In Persuasive Games: The Expressive ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. 1-39.

Bogost, Ian. How to Do Things with Videogames. University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Hotline Miami, Dennaton Games. Sept 2013. Video game.

The Stanley Parable, 1.4. Galactic Cafe, Davey Wreden. Dec 2016. Video Game.

Visual Rhetoric in Deconstructing Game Worlds

Emerald: A Horror Game Concept

Jadzia Genece
Carolyn Jong
April 18, 2017

emerald realm

Welcome to Emerald, a survival horror game where you must figure out how to return home, wherever or whatever that may be. You have been captured by mysterious hierarchical creatures who cannot be killed with simple gunfire and the like. You must escape their fortress and mysterious realm with the use of stealth, quick thinking, and sheer willpower.

Continue reading “Emerald: A Horror Game Concept”

Emerald: A Horror Game Concept

Final Project – Witness

Ruiting Ji & Melisa Badea

Instructor Carolyn Jong

English 255B – Video Games and/as Literature

April 18th, 2017


¬†The bystander effect is a social-psychological phenomenon: in a moment of urgency, as the number of bystanders (people present but not involved in a situation) increases, the likelihood of those bystanders helping out decrease. Our game, Witness, is a simulation game where the player is incited to fall victim to the bystander effect. We are doing so with ‚Äúprocedural rhetoric [which] entails persuasion‚ÄĒto change opinion or action‚ÄĚ (Bogost, p.29).

     In Witness, the player is getting ready for work as we follow their daily routine towards the pursuit of a clearly defined goal (arrive to work on time and deliver a good presentation). Since the player is pressed for time (there is a countdown on the bottom left corner stating how many minutes are left) and they are given one to four options per each situation that they encounter, the game creates a sense of urgency and pushes the player to make a selfless choice (help others) or a selfish choice (be well perceived at work).

     Furthermore, we establish constraints that limit the behaviour of the player and give reasons to the player to not take action against aggressive behaviour, bullying, sexual harassment, etc. The main constraint is one of time, letting the player in their every choice how much time they have spend, and how much time they have left. Other constraints include the use of language: ambiguous descriptions of the scene, asking the player if they are sure in their choice, etc. Those uncertainties and unclear moralities mirror the results of some of the factors that causes the bystander effect, such as consciousness of the surroundings, getting distracted by other things (in Witness, the fear of being late for a presentation), pluralistic ignorance, diffusion of responsibility, etc. (Ray, 2011) In sum, Witness forces the player to take uncomfortable and difficult decisions.

     Through Witness, we are arguing that the bystander effect can affect everyone, and that more often than not, we go through the process of rationalizing our own decisions and assume that they are right. Besides the countdown of time left, there are no clear feedback whether the player did the right thing in attempt to help. There are no explicitly stated consequences to not helping, nor to spending time helping out others and being late: it is down to the rationalization of the player towards what is important or not. In a way, then, Witness is a critique of games in which moral choices are clear cut, as the moral choice in Witness are very muddy, with no clear right or wrong.

Witness is a text-based game made with Twine. The game is accessible for everyone online.

Game link here:


Ian, Bogost. Excerpts from ‚ÄúProcedural Rhetoric.‚ÄĚ In Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. 1-39.

Williams, Ray. “Why We Stand By And Don’t Help.” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, 24 Oct. 2011. Web. 16 Apr. 2017.


Final Project – Witness