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Saturday, 16 March 2019

The suspension of disbelief in video games Brown, D (2012) Chapter 5 Literature Review

In Chapter five, the author continues the main thrust of the thesis which argues that the suspension of disbelief should be reconfigured when theorizing videogames.
The author clearly defines that, in this chapter he will examine, “how videogames’ self-referential focusing on the suspension of disbelief reveals the features of the suspension of disbelief which are unique to videogames”.

The author then goes on to construct the argument that dissonance in videogames work with their own notion of the ‘4th Wall’ to create various kinds of affect. He explores how the 4th wall is experienced in Theatre, Film, TV and the written novel and explains how this is reconfigured in videogames. He argues that control systems and interaction devices are necessarily outside the diegesis and that the suspension of disbelief, is achieved by the players willed disavowel of presence.
The author refers to the argument he has presented in the previous two conclusions and argues that the players willed disavowel of presence is a necessary part of gaming rather than an optional state, when examined within the ludic suspension of disbelief.

The author writes in a logical, concise and convincing manner underpinned by valid academic literature and supported by respected, leading authorities within the field. The research method is qualitative and is presented within a psychological theoretical framework.

The author refers to theoretical literature while presenting evidence from videogames that serve to illustrate the suspension of disbelief as a narrative or gameplay device. Examples from videogames are presented in order to examine consumer interaction as well as video game production. Although I am unfamiliar with some of the references, this presents a valuable opportunity to extend my videogame knowledge and develop my game language.

Dr Brown, refers to academic literature such as Huizinga’s (1955) magic circle, Suits (1978) lusory attitude and Iser, Gerrig and Fine’s theories, to underpin how a ‘game-playing role’ is constructed. He does this to further define the difference between video games and other media.
The author presents his thesis in consideration of Hollywood film, TV, theatre and play theory but does not refer to animation. This could indicate a potential gap in the thesis and although animation is often considered the poor cousin of film, for me, this does not hold.

There exists a body of animators that work within the traditions of expanded animation practice. Artists such as Len Lye, Stan Vanderbeek , William Kentridge. Birgitta Hosea and Tereza Stehlikova identify themselves as animators that produce installation, projection art and kinetic sculpture, as well as animated film.

My personal experimental practice has roots in expanded animation and although I am new to the field of videogame theory, I am currently trying to locate practice-based researchers in the field. For me, the relation between practice and theory is interdependent. It could be that by exploring the intersection between videogame and expanded animation practice, new knowledge could be revealed. It would interesting to examine the 4th wall, as reconfigured as a mutable construct, through a set of expanded animation experiments.

If I applied this theory to my current project, I could examine how players suspend disbelief in the game play. In questioning how the player adopts a ‘lusory attitude’ and the ‘game playing role’; I could think about how the willed disavowel of presence and the mutable 4th wall might be harnessed to deliberately create dissonance as a narrative or game play device. For example, I could focus on the game control both in and out of the diegesis so that I can expand and contract the 4th wall for narrative and game play effect.

A key aspect of my game is the spinning of a wheel of fortune to acquire a special skill.
In the game, the player will be presented with an iPad similar to the device they are playing on. On the device a wheel of fortune game will be illustrated as a plan view of the fairground arena. It is implied that as the player spins the wheel, this action spins the game environment. The spinning of the environment is implied using visual and sound effects.

It is assumed that this will connect the player both within the game playing and out of the diegesis. In doing so, this should expand and contract the 4th wall. As an untested concept, there are risks associated with this design. I am uncertain whether harnessing ‘digital nausea’ will enhance game play or be detrimental to the user experience. I am also uncertain as to whether the iPad frame will effectively provide sufficient focus before or after the dizzying effects are applied. It will therefore be necessary to read further academic and grey literature to inform my design and develop a working prototype to acquire user data.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The suspension of disbelief in video games Brown, D (2012)

The suspension of disbelief in video games Brown, D (2012) (Rough Draft 01) 

The main thrust of the authors thesis seems to be that the ‘suspension of disbelief’ should be reconfigured when analysing video games because of the distinction between that and other media such as film and tv. Video games engage the viewer in the ludic (playfulness) and immersion. It is these aspects of videogames, the authors proposes, that the 4th wall is not so much broken as expanded and contracted. It is these unique characteristics of videogames that call for the redefining of how the suspension of disbelief is considered in this art form. I have over simplified the argument as I have only drawn from the abstract, conclusions, bibliography and chapter 5 at this time. 

I am going to review Chapter 5 to analyse how the author presents an expanding 4th wall concept to support the overall thesis. In this chapter, the author begins by consolidating the argument so far and then introduces the key point which is that the 4th wall in gaming is different than in other media. His rationale (in brief) is that videogames do not break the 4th wall but expand and contract it within a ‘magic circle’. The author proses that in Hollywood films the 4th wall is a screen whereas in videogames the audience is immersed in a game world. The level of immersion depends on whether it is interrupted on screen by information which draws attention to the screen or in the instance of cut scenes breaks the immersion as the player becomes passive and loses a sense of agency and control. The author draws on the concept of the ludic (playfulness) and presents examples from Videogames to support his central idea.

The author produces the following evidence to support this aspect of his argument.

Tingler. Castle, W.  1959 
Warlock of Firetrap Mountain. Jackson and Livingston, 1982. 
Burnout Paradise, 2008. 
Dragon Age
Team Fortress Classic
Counter Strike
Mantis Battles
Metal Gear Solid
Escape from Mars, Headgames, Genesis, 1994. 
Sonic CD Sonic Team, 1993. 
Uplink Introversion Software, 2001. 
Another code: Two Memories Cong, 2005.
Evidence in the Ritual 
Adventure, Atari 1979
Mortal Kombat ii's Midway 1993
God of War Sony, 2005
Chrono Trigger
Zombies Ate my Neighbours Lucasarts 1993
Super mario 64 Nintendo, 1996
Phantom Hourglass Ninetendo 2007
Hotel Dusk Cing 2007
Eternal darkness 
Call of Cthulhu Dark Corners of the Earth, Headfirst Productions 2005
The Clock Tower horror series, Humansoft 1995
Magestic and Evidence: The last Ritual 
Super Paper Mario Intelligence systems, 2007 
Fable 3 Lionhead 2011
Prince of Persia:the sands of time Ubisoft 2003
Eternal Darkness 
Metal Gear 1987 
Metal Gear Solid Konami 1998 
Metal a Gear Solid 2 : Solid Snake Konami 1990 
Metal Gear Solid 3 Konami, 2004 
Metal Gear Solid 4 
Escape from New York 
Escape from LA Carpenter, J 1991
Space Invaders 
The War of the Worlds 
GTA vice City 
Heavy Rain 

Brecht Cited in Farman 2010 p.104
Salen and Zimmerman, 2004 - Refers to  Huizinga's 'Magic Circle', 1955 and Suits' 'lusory attitude' 1978 
Arsenault and Perron, 2009
Conway, S. 2010
Conway, S 2010 p147
Conway, S 2010 p151
Conway, S 2010 p153
Murray, 1998 p108
King and Krzywinska, 2006 p115.
Harvey, 2006 p3
Consalvo 2009
Ferreria and Falcom 2009
Montola et al 2009
Huizinga 1955
Gerrig 1998
King and Borland, 2003. 
Campbell 1949 
Genette 1972 p245
Altus 2007 
Altus 2008 
Waern, A 2009 
Pinchbeck 2007 
Rollings and Adams 2003 
Poole 2000
Poole 2000 p122 
Galloway 2006 
Galloway 2006 p35
Galloway 2006 p36
Gee 2009
Gee 2009 p267-268 
Higgin 2010
Ferri 2007 ch7 
Ryan 2003 p21 
Sicart, M 2009 p197 
Sicart 2011 p59
Fine, G A 1983 ch6 
Iser 1976 p35 
Suits 1978 p38-40 
Suits 1978 ibid p144 
Suits 1978 p131 
Juul 2007 p511 
Kris 1952 

Fig 12
Fig 13
Fig 14
Fig 15 
Fig 16
Fig 17
Fig 18 
Fig 19 
Fig 20 
Fig 21
Fig 22
Fig 23

Thesis chapter references
Chapter 4 p155-156
Chapter 2 p84
Chapter 3 p133
Chapter 4 - Heidegger Concernful Seeing 

(in Progress) 

Here I will analyse the reasons given to the authors point of view? 

Here I discuss how the evidence may be interpreted in other ways? 

Qualitative research is produced to support the argument however qualitative research could add weight to the thesis. Also, given that the author is a practitioner in video games it would have been possible to add experimental research drawn from his own practice. 

The majority of references are drawn from the field of psychology although the author is not a psychologist. This can be considered problematic and it could be that the author has collaborated on or co-written research papers which support his argument (Need to check this). The author is a leading games theorist and game maker which means that he comes to game theory as both a consumer of games and an insider with unique practitioners knowledge on the making of games.  

Here I will analyse whether the author has critically evaluated the other literature in the field 

Here I will discuss whether the author had included literature opposing her/his point of view 

Here I will analyse the validity of the research data and discuss whether it is based on a reliable method and accurate information. 

The argument of the main body of the text is constructed as follows: 
  • The difference between games and other media 
  • Redefining the concept of ‘The suspension of disbelief’ through an examination of its historical context. 
  • The suspension of disbelief in video games versus other media
  • How this thesis compares to others argument of the suspension of disbelief in video games (The original contribution to knowledge -PhD) 
  • Dissonance between the gameplay and the narrative and how the ‘skilled reader’responds 
  • Defining the term ‘skilled reader’. 
  • Problems of the skilled reader are Textual construction, players mindset, and the the reformulation of the 4th wall. 
  • Proposing that analysing games through the forth wall or suspension of disbelief presents a novel perspective on game theory. 

Thesis Conclusion 

[The concept of the Willed disavowal of presence, the expanding 4th wall and the Gamer taking the role offered by the game-text in relation to a ludic suspension of disbelief offers a novel perspective in game theory] 

Here I will detail the argument structure of Chapter 5

Here I will discuss the strengths and limitations of this study 

The scope of the enquiry 
Sweep of mainly UK literature and USA Examples  
Mainly 2007 - 2012 with some older Key texts references. 

This text contributes an alternative perspective to my own work which has assumed that the suspension of disbelief in animation can be applied to videogames. This clearly does not hold. Although my perspective on animation expands to projection mapping, installation and sculpture, as I draw from the work of Len Lye, William Kentridge and Stan Vanderbeek; I have not considered the suspension of disbelief through the lens of videogames. 

The thesis challenges me consider how ludic behaviour (playfulness) of the
‘viewer/player’, the state of immersion ( how it varies depending on whether the 4th wall is expanded or contracte),, and the notion of how the player willingly enters into the contract of disbelief through a disavowel of presence. By this the author proposes that the player not only suspends their own presence but adopts a role within the game. 

Applying this theory to my creative practice reconfigures the way I think about a players experience in my own games. I will necessarily need to think about how I expand or contract the 4th wall as I consider what levels of immersion I would like the player to experience. I will also consider how the player controls the game such as through a controller which not only controls the game but is a diegetic object (connects the object to the narrative) as I intended to use a set of cards to interact 
with the game but are also part of the game narrative. This leads me to think about a new term the ‘luddonnarrative’ which considers the potential disjunction between game narrative and game play. 

Review Process

  1. I deconstruct the abstract to understand the main thrust of the thesis. 
  2. I check the bibliography - date and field of the references. 
  3. I would normally read the whole text through by skimming first (first read) 
  4. In this instance I decided what I really wanted to know and chose the chapter relevant to this. 
  5. I skim read chapter 5 while critiquing the references and concepts discussed. 
  6. I checked any terms I didn’t understand in this context. 
  7. I read the text a second time - making notations which a) answer my litearture Review Questions b) Answer Questions relating to my own practice and theory (Animation, Games, Interaction and Immersion) 
  8. Checked all supporting examples/references. 

Monday, 8 October 2018

XR Animation for Therapeutic Application.

This post builds on the VR Narrative Research I am conducting as part of my commercial practice. I am interested in how a VR experience could be designed to improve mental and physical health by experimenting with meditation and visualisation for the benefit of relaxation, to relieve anxiety and improve a participants self-esteem.

Although a tricky area ethically, and the need of expert psychological research would be imperative to protect users; I do not think that this should restrict concept development at this stage. 

I will conduct a sweep of the literature so that I can locate relevant, respected and current research papers on this topic over the next year.


StoryUp Studios

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Nano Clay

I woke up this morning thinking about the haptic/tactile problem in user interface design.

Rather than developing a periphery device that responds to handling material in CGI using a haptic feedback glove, I began by thinking about material itself as a starting point.

I thought about clay and how humans have always moulded the material since digging it from the ground to form models that they had in their mind.

I'm sure we've all had the experience whereby we have made 'mud pies' in a field or coiled clay to make a pot...

Thousands of years ago, humans formed goddess figurines which can be found in every part of the globe.

And if you are lucky and have worked with animation, you would have formed small objects using animation clay to form all aspects of a world. Puppets and all manner of props and the set itself can be made from clay.

If you haven't seen any of Adam Elliot's work, I'd recommend you check his work out. Mary and Max is an epic stop motion animation.

If, like I have, you have experienced a disconnection when using CGI Modelling tools, you would have thought about the contrast between modelling models in CGI and modelling with clay. Maybe you've tried Z-Brush or 3Ds Max/Maya. You'd have thought about the bridge between physical materials and virtual representations on screen.

Well, when I thought about this in my research, I was looking at ways in which I could reconnect the disconnect.

I asked whether the tension one of...
  • Cultural values and beliefs
  • Material interaction
  • Periphery Device Design 
  • Interface Design
  • Something Else... 

Learning to code, and getting to grips with the 'stuff' of computer software is one way of continuing this experimental work.

However, when I woke up this morning I began to think about whether it would be possible to wrap nano particles around a particle of clay which could transfer locational information about where that particle of clay is in space.

When moulding the clay this would shift the XYZ position and the information could be represented on screen.

This could then be printed using a 3D printer or simply represented on screen.

It's just an idea I have no idea if its practical or not.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Day 1

Today is the very first day of MA Creative App Development, hosted by Falmouth University. Of course, it’s not day one of my research but it is an important step along the way.

My research is broadly located at the intersection between contemporary 3D Animation Practice and Interaction Design.

My journey so far includes...

  • Working as a commission based portrait artist. 

  • Training in Illustration and Stop Motion Animation 

  • Encountering CGI software as a craft based stop-motion animator. 

  • Deciding to apply CGI principles to craft practice instead of outright rejecting the tools.

  • Discovering for myself how I could projection map images on to 3D paper sculpture.

  • Exploring the way in which I interact with nature and physical materials and forces and how

  • this contrasts to the way in which I interact with CGI Modelling Software.

  • Working in the stop-motion industry

  • Creating work as an artist - animator

  • Applying the basic principles of CGI processes to craft practice. 

  • Discovering how I engage with uncertainty and how this could be related to the mental modelling processes. 

  • Questioning when and how I, ‘construct small scale models of the world in my mind’, CRAIK.

  • Questioning how material thinking, user experience, interaction design, and periphery device design raises personal tension and ethical questions. 

  • Considering whether I understand the tension in my practice, a tension I have previously described as a, ‘Disconnection’.

  • Questioning if accessing the 'stuff' of software i.e coding, testing software and developing an  app could help to reconnect the disconnect. 

And so here I am today, going forward into new territory, but in actual fact beginning by recalling my very first encounter with animation... coding a ZX spectrum in the mid 1980’s.

Using the spectrum magazine, as a child of 10 years old, myself and my brother spent 3 days religiously copying code from the many pages of the magazine to create my very first computer animated graphic... a flashing border, followed by a bouncing ball.

In truth, I don't remember any of the coding part but I do remember growing trees!

While my brother went on to make computers, engage with the demoscene and tinker with software in the car industry; I went back outside to make things with my hands, observe nature, grow trees and eventually go on to work in a surveyors office.

I worked as a portrait artist and then officially became a 'late returner' to HE in my early thirties. Ten years on I am still upgrading my skillset and discovering more about the creative world.

Today, I am turning again, to the point in time in which I coded my first computer while crafting with my hands and engaged with the natural environment. I am starting from a fresh sheet or paper (in more ways than one).

I’m here to pick up practical skills to advance my commercial work, develop an app I have designed and explore interaction design methodology and basic principles.

This course is really about converging my existing skills and experience while acquiring the necessary skills and portfolio to work as an experience designer as I continue to develop my own personal experimental work. 

N.B The practical element of this course will now be posted on my commercial blog 

Sunday, 3 June 2018


You will have noticed a new pop-up when you entered this site. This relates to the way in which google collects information about you and how they use this to keep you safe and provide an optimal user experience.

This new pop-up was designed in response to GDPR which relates to the new European data protection policy. This requires that all websites have a privacy policy which protects the rights of visitors to any website.

My privacy policy can be viewed at the bottom of this blog. 

This is actually great timing. I’m just about to start a course in Creative App Development with Falmouth University and I want to take my work in a new direction. My primary focus is to create interactions that are effective, respectful as well as ethical. GDPR is the perfect vehicle with which to achieve this aim.

My commercial and personal experimental practice, and, will be published on separate domains soon... subject to a complete identity re-design and of course the right privacy and cookie policies in place.

In the meantime, I am going to dive into creative app development, interactive and experience design research with an eye on developing my practice in new and exciting arenas.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Motion Capture

Motion Capture Prep       25/04/13
Shot List
HD Video Camera & Tripod
Helix: Stop Motion Model
Hex Cards
Camera & Interval-ometer
Craft Materials

Tacit knowledge from the stop-motion process.
1) Pattern and Rhythm in Making & Filming Process
2) Haptic /Tactile Feedback in material handling
            3) Trial and Error in problem solving Capture and Analysis
            4) Discovering affordances/constraints of the tools, materials & system
            5) Locating error in determined and found systems

Mo-Cap Shooting Order (25.4.13)

Model Making (Pilsner Model Making) LIVE FOOTAGE with X's marked at joints 
            (Produced to illustrate Trial and Error in the context of commercial stop-motion)                  

Stop-Motion Shooting in Studio Conditions (talking through process)
Plan View of path between camera and stop motion model
Locking Down Studio
Lighting Set Up 
Trial and error in shooting

Stop-Motion shooting in found conditions (Hex: talking through process)  
Making shooting cards: Knife, Pin, Paper
Shooting Cards: CG Light modulation
Shooting on 2’s but with moving light effects
Plan View of outdoors stop-motion shooting (Spanish set-up)
No Lock Down but awareness of weather changes wind, sun, cloud
No Lighting set up but awareness of the passing of time