Author Archives: [Chris] Dale

Agency, Interactivity, and the Implicit Contract

One extremely common area of discussion about videogames, both in what constitutes its academia and among the general public, is how the narrative of a videogame itself can be interactive. Perhaps relieving ourselves of the need to discuss the very specific, and substantively different, definition of that term used by Chris Crawford in his book on the subject, we can say broadly that people expect an interactive narrative to react, in some way, to their inputs, in a way that your average book or film (Choose-Your-Own adventure instances of those media excluded, of course) does not.… Read the rest

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Reward, Challenge, and the Truth about Replay Value

Replay value is a sorely misunderstood concept in game design. Designers and players tend to feel that replay value is a function of new content or challenge. Often a game with a linear story with no branching options, only one ending, and no advanced difficulty settings will be criticized for having low replay value, almost based solely on those facts. The perceived benefit of a higher replay value is that of economy: games are expensive, and the more entertainment you get out of them the better.… Read the rest

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So Many Misnomers

Welcome to another dot game optional sidequest! This sidequest relates to the main quest of The Videogame Misnomer, Part 1 Today we’re going to explore how the names of every major artform you’ve ever heard of are all somehow lacking! To begin:

The most blatant example is undoubtedly comics. The actual definition of comics has been difficult to pin down, though perhaps 70% of the work was done by Scott McCloud in his seminal Understanding Comics; nevertheless, almost everyone who ever lived is agreed that they don’t really have to be comic, i.e.… Read the rest

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The Videogame Misnomer, Part 1

Definition and categorization have got to be some of the most-discussed issues that fall under the umbrella of aesthetics, or the philosophy of art, in regards to videogames. On the one side, we have gamers defending against allegations from folks like Roger Ebert that videogames aren’t art; on the other, we have gamers declaring (often without support) that videogames like Dear Esther and Bientot L’ete aren’t “games” at all.… Read the rest

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Procedural Diegesis in Anna Anthropy’s dys4ia

We’re going to take a whack at so-called criticism here on dot game, and we’re going to start with Anna Anthropy’s dys4ia. It’s a five-minute flash game on newgrounds. Go play the game before you read this. Please and thank you. Even if you don’t read the rest of this critique, it’s a great game that you should play.

Now, there are many things about dys4ia that contribute to its high quality: its subtle, sweet sense of humor; its simple graphical style, which lets the player focus on other content in the game; and the music,  by Liz Ryerson, makes the final level all-the-more touching.… Read the rest

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Goodwill in ’60s Epic Genre Cinema

Welcome to dot Game’s first Optional Sidequest – extra information about the topic that might not be of interest to all of my readers. The side quest relates to the main quest of Goodwill

Contrast two films with notoriously slow pacing: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Both are likely masterpieces of late-’60s cinema.… Read the rest

Posted in Criticism, Design, Optional Sidequest | Tagged | 7 Comments


What is the most important thing to know about designing videogames? This is kind of an unreasonable question to ask; and yet I wanted an answer for my first post. Luckily, I found it in a quote from Blendo Games, in their informative and delightful devblog on their upcoming title Quadrilateral Cowboy.

The specific post is mildly technical, but the quote in question is quite an artistic statement:

Players have a finite amount of time and energy for you.

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