Uncharted 2 and the Customized Video Game Experience

Another paper that’s gaming-related that I’m posting here. Fortunately, I did well with a 96% on it, considering it was the final paper for the semester. Even better, some SMYNjas helped with this! If you want to read about how gamers customize their own visual experience in a video game context, using Uncharted 2: Among Thieves as an example, there’s 26 pages of it here. Below is the paper’s introduction, followed by a link to the full paper.

It may be called a toy at times, but video games have clearly become a media force to be reckoned with. With every passing year, games become a bigger part of the worldwide media culture. While the industry hits its high points in the cultural landscape during the holiday shopping frenzy, followed by the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in June, video games are a year-round money-generating phenomenon. Games may have similarities in their business structure to the film industry, yet the game industry has amassed nearly $25 billion of revenue in 2011, which is no small feat (“The entertainment software,” 2012). This type of expansion is likely due to the different approaches that game consoles and mobile phones now use when it comes to redefining and expanding what it means to be a video game player. Games can now be anything from an epic adventure that takes one hundred hours to complete or a small concept that kills time with its rewarding, repetitive nature. Regardless of the game type, players are taking in a wide variety of media-driven experiences every day, which translates into an industry that is making billions of dollars and continues to strive for greater cultural relevance.

This type of unprecedented success helps communication scholars, particularly those in the media studies discipline, legitimize the study of games through research. Video games, when compared to other traditional media forms, are still in the early, formative years of their media existence. One of the earliest examples of a video game that reached mass awareness was Pong, which blipped its way back and forth across home television screens in the early 1970s. Since then, games have added narrative structures, the latest computer-rendered graphics, and more, all for the sake of a game’s core concept of play. The progressions appear similar to the first films of the Lumiere Brothers and the changes in the medium by the time film began to feature sound.

In the video game industry, higher production values compared to years past allow for a wider range of titles and experiences. Because the gaming medium is one that relies heavily on player agency and interactivity, studying how a player experiences a video game has great potential. After defining the current state of video games and their markets, this literature review will consider multiple aspects regarding how players experience games differently. First, audiences will be defined, to look at who plays video games. Second, the characteristics that make the video gaming medium unique must be noted. Third and finally, game qualities such as world design, controls, and film-like cut-scenes will be highlighted from a production perspective. After considering all of these, a research question will be posed regarding how to look at video game audiences and how they customize their own experience in the medium.

READ THE FULL PAPER (pdf)

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