Character-Driven Game Design is Out

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Updated 14.5.2010: Added download link.

Back cover says:

In the Character-Driven Game Design, Petri Lankoski presents a theory that illuminates how game characters contribute to shaping the playing experience. Based on this theory he provides design tools for character-based games which utilize methods and theories derived from dramatic writing and game research.

“The use of Lajos Egri’s bone structure for a three dimensional-character and of Murray Smith’s three levels of imaginative engagement with characters allows the candidate to expose the full complexity of the imaginary persons represented and controlled in a single-player game. What makes his design-center approach even more interesting is that gameplay is an integral part of it.”
Bernard Perron, Associate Professor, Université de Montréal

“Lankoski does a great job laying out the theory of primary interest to him, and making the case for the need to tether character design to game design more tightly than has been the case in the past. Certainly, too, putting attention to social networks of characters and finding useful design patterns to guide this level of game design is also of great value, and underexplored in the field.”
Katherine Isbister, Associate Professor, Polytechnic Institute of New York University


List of Publications 9
Acknowledgements 10
Introduction 11
– Characters as Facilitators of the Playing Experience? 12
– The Context of This Study 13
– Game Design 14
– Game Research 15
– Cognitive Sciences and Film Studies drawing on Cognitive Sciences 16
– Dramatic Writing for Theatre and Film 17
– Goals 18
– Methods 18
– Qualitative Analysis 19
– Gameplay Design Patterns 19
– Structure of This Thesis 20
Game Characters 21
– Understanding Other People 21
– Mimicry and Empathy 22
– Person Schema 22
– Player Characters 23
Game and Gameplay Design 29
– Game Design Approaches 29
– Game Design and Character Design 30
– Missing Link: From Character Design to Gameplay Design 33
Character Engagement and Game Design 35
– Characters in Computer Games: Toward Understanding Interpretation and Design 35
– Player Character Engagement in Computer Games 35
– Gameplay Design Patterns for Believable Non-Player Characters 36
– Gameplay Design Patterns for Social Networks and Conflicts 37
– Lies and Seductions 38
– Character-Driven Game Design: Characters, Conflict, and Gameplay 38
Conclusions 41
– Characters and the Playing Experience 41
– Game and Character Design 44
– Concluding Remarks 46
References 47
Appendix 1: Research Material 57
Appendix 2: Gameplay Design Patterns 61
– Actions Have Social Consequences 61
– Character Defining Actions 62
– Detective Structure 63
– Enforced Character Behavior 64
– Faction 64
– Information Passing 65
– Internal Conflict 66
– Internal Rivalry 67
– Loyalty 67
– Melodramatic Structure 68
– Outcast 69
– Player-Designed Character 70
– Social Gatekeeper 70
– Social Maintenance 71
– Social Norms 71
– Traitor 72
– Trait Regulated Behavior 73
– References 74
Appendix 3: Lies and Seductions Credits 75
– Article 1 76
– Article 2 92
– Article 3 116
– Article 4 132
– Article 5 156
– Article 6 162
Abstract 182

Lies and Seductions (CD / download:

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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