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New Release: Possible Worlds in Video Games

The ETC Press is proud to announce the release Antonio José Planells de la Maza’s Possible Worlds in Video Games: From Classic Narrative to Meaningful Actions.

Video games are one of the most important cultural and leisure industries in the world. Far from being mere children’s toys, current digital games resemble film and literature in their ability to evoke complex and immersive fictional worlds. In this sense, video games have evolved into cultural objects capable of eliciting rich and vast fictional worlds through ludic experiences. In this regard, contemporary video games should be read more like playable worlds than as interactive stories.

Thus, fictional worlds of the traditional media are transformed into ludofictional worlds, spaces rich in characters and emotions that are especially affected by the intervention of a player. We propose a theoretical-practical model called Theory of Ludofictional Worlds, inspired by the Semantics of Fiction and Possible Worlds, and which is oriented to the analysis of video games as integrated systems.

The first part of the book proposes a brief journey from philosophy to narratology in which the central notions at stake are analyzed: possible world, mimesis, fiction, and narration. This part becomes essential to establish the theoretical coordinates in which the videogame moves as a contemporary cultural and audiovisual object.

The second part focuses on games as game worlds. In this sense, and taking into account the context of digital culture and interdisciplinary readings, ludofictional worlds are examined through three different perspectives. In the first place, the static macrostructural dimension accounts for the game as a formal system of possible worlds, that is, it exposes the different game options proposed by the designer to the user. Secondly, the dynamic microstructural dimension analyzes what relationships exist between possible actions, characters and psychological motivations. And, finally, the metaleptic dimension focuses on the main mechanisms (interface, physical game controls, haptic systems) that allow the player to overcome the boundaries of fiction to intervene inside.

The third and last part propose the commented analysis of a sample of titles. From games as significant as “Portal 2” or “Alan Wake”, this book analyzes how these worlds are created, from their structure to the design of characters, without forgetting the relevance of actions or the emergence of emotions to show the complexity and limits of the design of contemporary videogames.

About Antonio José Planells de la Maza

Antonio José Planells de la Maza (PhD), researcher and professor at Tecnocampus-Pompeu Fabra University. He has studied Law, Media Studies and the Master of Applied Research to Mass Media at University Carlos III of Madrid and the Master of Advances Studies in Social Communication at University Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, Spain). His main research interests are related to fictional and possible worlds, ideology and character design. You can email him here.

About Carnegie Mellon University’s ETC Press

ETC Press is a publishing imprint with a twist. We publish books, but we’re also interested in the participatory future of content creation across multiple media. We are an academic, open source, multimedia, publishing imprint affiliated with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and in partnership with Lulu.com.

ETC Press publications will focus on issues revolving around entertainment technologies as they are applied across a variety of fields. Authors publishing with ETC Press retain ownership of their intellectual property. ETC Press publishes a version of the text with author permission and ETC Press publications will be released under Creative Commons licenses. Every text is available for free download, and we price our titles as inexpensively as possible because we want people to have access to them. We’re most interested in the sharing and spreading of ideas.

About CMU’s Entertainment Technology Center

The ETC is the premiere professional graduate program for interactive entertainment as it’s applied across a variety of fields. Our unique, two-year, Master of Entertainment Technology (MET) degree is jointly conferred by Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science and the College of Fine Arts.

The ETC was founded in 1998 with Randy Pausch and Don Marinelli as the co-directors. The faculty and staff worked together to articulate our academic mission which focuses on educational goals and creative development. And we also created an R&D Agenda exploring transformational games, innovation by design and interactive storytelling. Throughout, we work to prepare students to graduate as creative professionals.