Sunday, October 03, 2004

Interactivity of a Game

I love tetris. I used to play Tetris all the time on my computer, the version that came with one of my pcs years ago, i used to play it on the gameboy a friend of mine sold me in elementary school, i used to play it on ols-skool nintendo too. I remember watching some movie or documentary about the russian guy who invented it and how he was some big-shot math guy or something. When I was 6 or 7 I bought a pc version of tetris that had all of these cheesy photographs of Russian landscape/cityscapes as the backgrounds to the game. I remember getting sucked into this warped perspective of Russia and what it was like through how much I played that game and how much those pictures got imbedded in my brain. Oh and that god-dammned music!

Under Chris Crawford's cyclical process of interactivity Tetris works in the following way:

The gamer...

Listens... by paing attention the new pieces being introduced into play (and the up and coming ones)

Thinks... by processing where to put the piece play while also dealing with the pressures and time constraints the game has given

Speaks... by placing the peices accordingly

The Tetris Mainframe...

Listens... by watching where the player has put its peice

Thinks... by determining the hieight of the stack of peices and whether or not the last move has deemed a row/s erasable

Speaks... by erasing rows of blocks and/or speeding up falling movement of game pieces

Overall the game is not highly interactive only because we are usually under the assumption that the Tetris Mainfranme is under some sort of rule of radomizaiton. If the mainframe responds with a differen't piece according to a players last move, then the game becomes much more interactive as there is some real responses being made by both players. But, when it comes to a game that is played against a computer there is only so much interactivity, according to Crawfords model, that can occur.


Blogger Jane said...

Wow! I think you may have inadvertantly just suggested a brilliant game mode.
Your observation that random piece distribution on the computer program's part diminishes interactivity makes a lot of sense (less thinking and not as intentional reciprocal change, in Meadow's terminology). And I think you make a good case for social play ultimately affording more complex interaction than computer play. When I finished reading your post, the first thing I thought of was: Wow! What about a tetris mod where the pieces, instead of being program-distributed, where human-controlled? And where a person was responsible for managing a set of pieces to throw at the other player--- when is it most advantageous to throw a square vs. one of those long crooked ones, etc? I can envision a very interesting dynamic and different emergent strategies. I realize this has nothing to do with your cool social/party game design ideas, but worth mentioning nonetheless that you have stumbled upon a really interesting and challenging design idea!

October 4, 2004 at 9:17 AM  

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