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10/2000

Electronic Entertainment: An Overview

Here I've selected from the world of games a few different types. In each of these genre-based subsections there's a little bit of game history, and a description of the mental models involved in the games.

Story-DrivenGame Types:

RTS - Real Time Strategy
TBS - Turn Based Strategy
FPS - First-Person ("Shooter")
RPG - Role-Playing Games

Each of these forms is largely an extension of either chess or tag. Seeing centuries old models beneath the flashy graphics ties these games in nicely with the history of human entertainment.

These forms above are the most widely used game-types for storytelling. If we can articulate the gameplay mechanics, we can examine the relationship between the content of the story and the participation of the player. This interaction is a large part of what makes video games compelling.

Other Types:

Sports type video games are extensions of the normal play, extended or altered to suit the videogame landscape. There's some lively study in how physically active pursuits like basketball or even dodgeball are made into entertaining play. But these games are largely based on the rules and narrative taken straight from popular sports, so as vehicles for storytelling, they have much of their script already written.

Driving games are similarly patterned after the experience of the road, though the breath of stories there is ever widening (mostly the stories concern law and criminality, playing out the relationship between American psyche and the freedom of the road).

Arcade games, action games, they are the essence of gameplay. A bit of decoration, some plot or setting maybe, but mostly lots of hand-eye coordination and fast thinking outside of the context of character and plot.

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