BoRTs are back! September’s topic was Spatial Representation in Games
Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about spatial & behavioral representation in games. In a course I teach, we played the party game Werewolf, aka Mafia, as an example of the use of inter-player dynamics. Werewolf uses a majority vote to decide who is eliminated in each of the day phases. Players are free to lie, cajole, bully, trick, plead or by any other means persuade other players to support their decision. Aside from laying down the basic core loop, phase progression, etc., the game lives and breathes according to the relationships developed between the players. A kind of psychic/emotional/relational map is drawn as play progresses. What does this look like? How does it feel to walk through the Cathedral of Your Relationship with Your Mom?
From the moment we meet someone, whether consciously or not, we mentally place them in relation to ourselves and everyone else we’ve ever met. We draw highly annotated, constantly shifting mental schematics of our relationships as we go through life. Whole business-plazas made from our professional contacts. But do we do this in video games? Are we able to utilize this innate tendency of the human social structure?
As mentioned above, it is used as a mechanic in games such as Werewolf and Diplomacy, but is it ever used in a video game? Is it even possible? MMOs seem uniquely placed to do this. Could interplayer relationships be spatially represented in a MMO? How could it be used? Levels, continents, whole worlds generated from the topology of the interpersonal relationships of its players. One day you find yourself raiding a dungeon whose twisty little passages remind you uncannily of fights you’ve had with your ex.
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