9/23 “This Action Will Have Consequences”: Interactivity and Player Agency – Cherry

In “This Action Will Have Consequences”: Interactivity and Player Agency, Sarah Stang evaluates the assumption that videogames are interactive experiences which allow users to exercise control and agency over their narratives. The article applies two case studies to explore different ways in which game developers have connected player agency with issues of morality. Many asserts that players may only be offered an illusion of agency, and should use the term “reactivity” instead of “interactivity”.

The idea that “regardless of the constraints inherent within videogame worlds and narratives, players create meaning within these possibility spaces” concludes the main idea well. Players want to see the results of their decisions and choices in gaming, and if the choices offered seem meaningful, the players can maintain a feeling of control and agency. Another point is that labelling people’s decision as “good” or “bad” is not appropriate. The Walking Dead example demonstrates that characters can voice their opinions, but the game offers little moral guidance and no reward for the decision. The game is really popular, but the article states that players’ different options may eventually lead to the same outcome. On the other hand, the example of BioShock shows that the game gives no control to players in climactic moment. The game continuously asks “would you kindly” and that ultimate insults to the player since people cannot choose to do anything to change the situation.

The author cites a lot from other’s idea, and there are some analogy help to better understand the content. “Video games provide vicarious thrills”, Sarah states the difference of gaming to other medias. Fan communities engage with the videogame industry, and developers may change ending to games due to player outcry. Gaming is more like a conversation between game players and game creators.

“True player agency lies not within pre-scripted videogame narratives, but in the players’ interpretations of the game text, in their engagement with fan communities, and in the exchanges that occur between fans and developers.” That would be an excellent ending for the whole article.

One thought on “9/23 “This Action Will Have Consequences”: Interactivity and Player Agency – Cherry

  1. Cherry, I also read this article and I love the last point you made. That quote also really stuck out to me and I thought it was a great ending to the article. It is interesting to consider that oftentimes the interactivity stems from the conversations people have with others in the gaming community, and not just within the game itself.

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