It is widely agreed that digital games are dual structures, comprised of both a mechanistic and a semiotic dimension. While early approaches tended to favor one of these elements on behalf of the other, much current research calls for more holistic approaches to digital games which take both dimensions into account. Still, existing analytical frameworks dedicated to analyzing digital games as aesthetic works tend to have either a very general focus or to mainly address meaning or mechanisms. Here a broad notion of challenge is proposed as a basis for holistic analysis of digital games. Conceptualizing challenge both as demanding and stimulating situations which may be identified as potential or actualized in a given playing, the offered framework is demonstrated through application in an analysis of Fallout 3. Seeking to take into account the premise of situated playing, the analysis will focus on the interplay between the game’s expressivity and mechanics in creating a plethora of varied potential challenges and, likewise, the ways these may be actualized for a given player.
Game Studies, 2012, Vol 12, Issue 2
Challenge, digital games as aesthetic works, analytical framework, holistic approach, analysis of digital games, methodology, implied and actual player, Fallout 3, satire, artistic game design, player preferences