Ludology and Mise en Sceneby Survey of Interactive Media
Attempting to find the ludology of films, looking at "Blade Runner" and "Firefly." How fans create their own ludos rewatching media and examining the mise en scene, a process similar to some adventure games. by Talia Squires
critical theories have grown up around games, there has been an attempt to
define games in terms other than narrative. Ludology attempts to create a more
appropriate framework for examining games. Yet Gonzala Frasca argues that “Just
like narratology, ludology should
also be independent from the medium that supports the activity.” Frasca mapped
both ludus and narraive onto videogames illustrating how both can expand our
understanding of videogames. But, as games become more filmic and we keep
talking about “game films”, it only seems appropriate that we look for the
ludus in films.
adventure games popular in the 90s such the King’s
Quest, Quest for Glory, or Monkey Island series. All of these games
had a fairly strong narrative of a hero on a quest and featured many puzzles.
These games encourage players to try everything imaginable. Players are meant
to poke, sniff, rub, pick up, kick many objects on screen. In a non-interactive
film environment these things would be considered a part of mise en scene and
in games, the result of this exploration would be furthering the quest, but
sometimes the reward would be minor. A character could “win” the game without
beating or even discovering all of the side quests. Beyond the sub-quests there
are also many hidden jokes. The richness of the game came from exploration
rather than a linear progression through escalating missions. Yet it is
frequently only through exploring everything that the player can win the game.
his attempt to define a game, Jesper Juul states that “Attachment of the player
to the outcome is a less formal category than the previous ones in that it
depends on the player’s attitude towards the game; it is part of what we may
term the ‘game contract’ or lusory
attitude that the player agrees to be playing. The spoilsport is one who
refuses to seek enjoyment in winning, or refuses to become unhappy in loosing.”
Although he seems to be allowing for self-made goals, there is still an idea
that without the desire to win there is no longer a game. Thus The Sims is in limbo, even more so when
people attempt to kill their sims off in as many ways as possible. There are
many players who create their own goals. I would argue that adventure games
that encourage exploration are very open to the idea of player created goals.
I’ve had many people express to me that they are less interested in beating the
game than finding everything in the game, which as a side effect means that
they will also win.
idea of paidea video games is
probably more applicable to exploratory adventure games, but can also be
applied to film. Frasca argues that a paidea game has no predetermined goal,
but that the player defines the goal. In defining that goal, they once again
meet Juul’s conditions for a game, and can create ludus.
existence of fan culture and DVD players has made ludology a useful lens
through which to examine certain films. Fan culture has made new goals for
viewers that exist outside of the narrative. Whereas once the pleasure of a
film or television series was simply to watch it, now there is an entire
community out there designed to extend that pleasure. New, fan created goals,
would be the endless attempts to definitively prove that Deckard is or is not a
replicant. Even if there is a definitive answer, the debates in themselves are
pleasurable. In order to conduct these debates fans go back to the movie and
watch is closely. The film encourages viewers to look into the shadowy
backgrounds and rooms to find clues as to everyone’s identity. If you are good,
then the movie rewards you with things like the statue from the Maltese Falcon.
impulse to explore is reinforced by Deckard’s own searching. His looking into
the photograph to discover the replicant allows the viewers know that there is
always more to be seen. The origami animals that Gaff leaves around also draw
attention to the inner lives of the characters. By leaving these clues the film
is implying that there are answers, you just have to look closely enough. In
fact it encourages all of use to be detectives.
and television shows made after the appearance of online fan communities and
DVD players with freeze frame abilities make even more use of this. Keeping in
mind that these fans have already been trained by the adventure games we all
played growing up. The two things that you learn from adventure games are that
there is always and answer and nothing is two silly to try.
in its very limited run, managed to inspire many fans to speculate as to who or
what “Blue Sun” might be. In the series “Blue Sun” is nothing more than a very
pervasive logo found on shipping containers, T-shirts, food cans and I’m sure
many other places. The ability to pause, rewind, and compare notes has made these
“games” more rewarding than watching the show in some cases, at the very least
they reward close re-watching.
the first clip the can that the transmitter is taped to has a blue sun logo. In
the second clip the shipping containers in the back have the logo. Once again
Blue Sun isn’t mentioned in the series, so this is something that is meant to
reward people who watch closely. In the case of Firefly the unexplained pervasiveness created a mystery that had
many fans guessing. Due to cancellation of the series, this speculation
continues past the life of the show.
dense mise en scene full of references to other film, meant to reveal more
meaning about the world, or create a mystery for the viewer to solve add a game
to a seemingly passive viewing experience. In these cases the ludology of the
film, as separate from the narrative, allows us to better understand how fans
are watching films and television today.
"The Game, the Player, the World: Looking for a Heart of Gameness".
In Level Up: Digital Games Research
Conference Proceedings, edited by Marinka Copier and Joost Raessens, 30-45.
Utrecht: Utrecht University, 2003.
Frasca. “Ludology Meets Narratology:
Similitude and differences between (video)games and narrative.” Finnish
version originally published in Parnasso#3, Helsinki, 1999. www.ludology.org
(I apologize, I don't know why everything is getting huge and bold everytime I save this lecture.)