We say it so often, it’s almost a cliche: video games allow us to explore virtual “worlds.” The medium is replete with strange locations that players learn to navigate as naturally as they do their own neighborhoods. Whether it is the Mushroom Kingdom, Rapture, or Liberty City, a convincing world can yield an immersive experience. But what exactly makes for a good game world, and how do we describe these qualities concretely? In his recent Edge article, Chris Dahlen raises these question and begins to push for a more explicit articulation of how game worlds function. We use his article as a starting point and cover issues of fiction, systemic storytelling, and themes that define gaming worlds. Seeing as how we have such worldly listeners, we’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments!
Some discussion starters:
- What are your favorite video game worlds and why did they impress you? Conversely, what prevents you from being drawn into a game world?
- How much of a game’s world is defined by its rules and systems? For example, would a Mario game that isn’t based in the Mushroom Kingdom or rendered with a fantastic art style still be in the “Mario world?” Would an artistically traditional Mario game without platforming still be part of the “Mario world?”
- What role does imagination play in world building? How is the willingness to believe in a place augmented by previous experiences, as in the case of sequels?
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- Run time: 34 min 04 sec
- “You Build Worlds,” by Chris Dahlen via Edge
- Music provided by Brad Sucks