“Rethinking Agency and Immersion: Videogames as a Means of Consciousness-Raising” by Frasca

  • ©Gonzalo Frasca




    Rethinking Agency and Immersion: Videogames as a Means of Consciousness-Raising



    Until recently, most videogame characters did not reflect our everyday life for the simple reason that most of them were trolls, aliens, and monsters. However, this has changed since the introduction of “The Sims,” the people simulator. Nevertheless, characters in this game are still flat since “The Sims” simulates life in a Disneyland-like way, avoiding ideological conflicts.

    Encouraged by authors like Brenda Laurel and Janet Murray, videogame designers have been taking for granted that a high level of agency and immersion are desirable effects. However, I will show that alternative, non-Aristotelian techniques could be used to develop character-driven videogames that enhance critical thinking about ideological issues and social conflicts while keeping the experience enjoyable. I will do this by borrowing some concepts from Bertolt Brecht’s and Augusto Baal’s ideas on non-Aristotelian theater and applying them to videogame design. In this paper, I propose that a modified version of “The Sims” would allow players to create behavioral rules for their characters that reflect their personal opinions. Like in Baal’s Forum Theater, this game would foster critical discussion about social and personal problems.


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