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What do the dynamics of Communication look like through the Lens of the System of Experience?

Glenn Storm, Blogger

January 1, 2010

26 Min Read

Previous Post: The Lens of the System of Experience

In the previous post, the idea of the Lens was described as a design tool concept used by Jesse Schell in his book, "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses", and a new Lens was introduced as way of observing aspects of Game Design in terms of the system of Experience.  This Lens was then applied to the concept of The Magic Circle for the purposes of evaluation and analysis.  In this post, the Lens is applied to the concept of Communication.  Everyone should feel encouraged to join the discussion and comment on or debate the assertions presented. All relevant comments are welcome and appreciated.


Communication is the heart of Game Design.  Effective Communication is the only way to convey the altered reality of the Magic Circle, the theme and rules of the game and the player’s goal, obstacles, affordances and feedback.  A game cannot be played without effective Communication, let alone be designed or developed; as a fundamental role of the game designer is that of a communicator.  In terms of the system of Experience, Communication is the process by which we attempt to transfer Understanding between individuals; that is, to attempt to transfer discrete Cognitive Model subsets in a way that maintains cohesion and retains or instills Reliability.

Communication is a supremely difficult task to perform ideally.  One’s translation of thoughts to words alone poses a significant threat to its cohesion, as one shifts Attention to linguistic development.  To communicate between individuals, we employ a considerably complex procedure to arrive at verbal, non-verbal, written, visual or auditory signals that represent the primary means of actual Understanding transfer.  From there, and assuming no signal interference is present, our process to arrive at Perception takes those signals and interprets them in accordance with contextual reference; which as mentioned is also an imprecise process.  Even at that point, Communication can reveal differences in opinion or point of view between individuals that can, in turn, cause contradictions and inconsistencies in the Cognitive Model that must be then reconciled via Attention; which also threatens its cohesion as compared to the thought of origin.  While clear Communication is crucial to a game Experience, it should be respected as an extremely complex process.

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