Freeform, Jeepform, and Limitations

I stumbled across Tobias Wrigstad’s blog, where he discusses freeforming, railroading and the players’ freedom. He makes good points about the nature of railroading, freeforming and the role of limitations. However, I find following claim rather curious: “In a generic, ‘tabula rasa’ freeform adventure there are no limitations”. Even without predefined structures like characters there are limitations: the word ‘freeform’ have it’s meaning that guides player’s expectation and player expectations guide their choices (making some more probable and some unthinkable).

Game structures are much like rhetoric: “[T]he author cannot choose to avoid rhetorics; he can choose only the kind of rhetoric he will employ.” (Booth, 1983) Even in freeform (or Jeepform) someone is distributing power, making choice to call event as Jeepform, etc., and thus structuring a game. There are no tabula rasa, unlimited freeform games.

Booth, Wayne (1983). The rhetoric of fiction. Chicago: The Chicago University Press (2nd edition).

Published by lankoski

Petri Lankoski, D.Arts, is a Associate Professor in Game Studies at the school of Communication, Media and IT at the Södertörn University, Sweden. His research focuses on game design, game characters, role-playing, and playing experience. Petri has been concentrating on single-player video games but researched also (multi-player) pnp and live-action role-playing games. This blog focuses on his research on games and related things.

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