Experimenting with PGDI: Doors — Part 1 of 3

I started TAing last week. It’s a terrifying experience when I have to get up and talk, but sometimes it can lead to some strange ideas. You see, the professor I’m assisting (Brenda Laurel by the way) had the students read my own essay that compares genre to PGDI as a tool for gaining literacy in games. That piece wasn’t on my blog yet, probably because I wanted to go and revise it once before I put it up here, but the students read it (at least it seemed so), and wow did they have questions. One of the more interesting comments that came up was this idea of using game-centric methods on other pieces of interactive media. Popular game genres are pretty bad at that, since they describe a very specific type of medium. The thematic genres we’ve borrowed from cinema and literature (sci-fi, romance, etc.) are better at it, by far, but then we’re already using them to do that.

PGDI, though, might be more flexible. Since PGDI started as a games studies method, it would be interesting to be able to apply it to other kinds of media. It is particularly helpful when looking at something like Coffee: A Misunderstanding by Squinky Kiai, an interactive piece that introduces elements of plays and improvisation to the gamespace. So, I got to thinking, what kind of interactive media could I test PGDI on? Well, it happens that the students are reading about affordances for class, as well, and for affordances, we have a piece by Don Norman from The Design of Everyday Things. In the reading, Norman opens by talking about doors that have a problem with perceived affordances (e.g., doors that push from the left, where the left and right are indistinguishable). Since I have doors on the brain, I came up with the idea, why not try to apply PGDI to describe a door? Sure, most people don’t see doors as media, but they are interactive and they are things that are designed. I think that PGDI is robust enough to wander out into other areas of art and design. Let’s see how it holds up. This will be a piece in three parts. The first part will deal with the Social and Participation components. The second part will examine the Mastery and Immersion components. Finally, the third part will tackle the Customization and Progression components. The format for this will be similar to my treatment of Catherine through PGDI (Part 1, Part 2).

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Catherine, as Described by PGDI – Part II

Two weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about describing the mechanics of Catherine based on the descriptions of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). I had decided to split it up into two parts, the first post looking at the Customization, Progression, and Social categories. There was supposed to be a follow-up post last week that described Catherine via the Immersion, Mastery and Participation categories, but as you may or may not have noticed, that did not happen. Without going into too many details, I decided that I had written enough for the first month of the semester and met with some professors to greatly adjust what I am doing this semester for their class. Basically, the goals for what I was going to do this semester were inadvertently already met within the first month, and we decided that the rest of my work was unnecessary. So I proposed a new semester’s work and now I will be aiming towards something I wasn’t going to touch this early. There will be more details about that in a separate post. For now, let’s just get down to describing the Immersion, Mastery, and Participation categories of Catherine.

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PGDI: Descriptions of the Participation Components

In a previous post, I described the general categories of the Player-Game Descriptive Index (PGDI). In this post, I will be explaining the components in the participation category: Agency, Challenge, Power, Reward.

The Participation Category

The Participation Category

In the participation category are components related to the player feeling like they are participating in the game, that their actions matter. Continue reading