Who is the actor in a game? Is it the person holding the controller in the real world, or the player-character who moves through the game-world?
The answer, at least care of veteran game designer Matthias Worch (Mafia III, Star Wars 1313, Dead Space 2) circa 2011, is both, and the game designer must work carefully to keep the interests of these two consciousnesses aligned.
At GDC 2011, Worch gave a great talk that examines how we reconcile developer-defined and player-derived character identities. Games often feature strong pre-authored characters and story arcs, while trying to give the player the feeling of uninhibited agency. The practical techniques presented by Worch suggest a path to designing stories that don’t simply provide a context for the players actions, but instead create impulses and motivations within the player that are in alignment with those of the avatar.
It was well worth watching, so if you missed it way back in 2011 take advantage of the fact that Worch's talk has now been made freely available on the official GDC YouTube channel!
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