Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Agency Problems
Imagine you're a playwright on an experimental theater production. You
get to write the lines for every character—except one. The protagonist is
played by a random audience member who is pulled on stage and thrust
into the role with no script or training.
Think that sounds hard?
Now imagine that this audience member is drunk. And he's distracted
because he's texting on his cellphone. And he's decided to amuse himself
by deliberately interfering with the story. He randomly tosses insults at
other cast members, steals objects off the stage, and doesn't even show up
for the climactic scene.
For a playwright, this is a writing nightmare. The fool on stage will
disrupt his finely crafted turns of dialogue, contradict his characteriza-
tion, and break his story. Game designers face this every day because
games give players agency .
AGENCY is the ability to make decisions and take meaningful actions
that affect the game world.
A well-constructed traditional story is a house of cards. Every charac-
ter nuance, every word of dialogue, every shade of knowledge shared or
held back plays a part in the intricate dance of narrative. Story events must
chain-react in perfect succession and lead to a satisfying conclusion that
speaks to a deathless theme. The writer painstakingly adjusts every word
to achieve this result.
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