Brief Candle – Research Blog 05: Act Three – The Author

Out, out, brief candle!

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury

Signifying nothing.

— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)

After establishing a theme of games to play and analyse, the game for the author is the Stanley Parable. Coincidentally studying this game for another paper helped me realise the pattern of games and hopefully strengthen the point of my research with a strong set of case studies. Especially since the biggest issue with studying scenography is that it is entirely case specific. There are a few rules regarding establishing the performance space and dramatic space where the spectacle takes place, but for the most part it is the performance in motion that determines the effectiveness of the scenographer.

Looking at examples from different members of one development team has helped me to unify the research process and look at the game through one lens.

The Stanley Parable is an excellent example for treating the player as an author to the game, despite not actually being able to edit the game source code or assets. But from a theatrical point of view this game does an excellent job. The player can choose to obey the narrator or defy his wishes taking the game into their own hands (or so they think). Ultimately the game is a statement about the triviality of player choice and agency, which lends itself well to this research topic. Scenographically it is similar however to the other works I have analysed, only the Stanley Parable applies its elements in the mundane. A dull unassuming office in which extraordinary choices can be made.

Realistically what my research has shown is that an understanding of a players role within a game can be adapted to any of these three roles I am trying to expose. Therefore my conclusion needs to be a way of differentiating them.

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