Characters in Computer Games: Toward Understanding Interpretation and Design

This is an old paper published in 2003 containing an early version of character recognition framework developed further for my thesis. This version contains some edits compared to version available in Digra Digital Library due to quick html conversion (no foot notes, tables are lists, etc.).

Presented at Level Up Conference Proceedings, Utrech: University of Utrech, November, 2003. A presented version is downloadable at digra digital library, © Authors & DiGRA, 2003. Free for educational and research use; commercial use restricted and only by permission.

Petri Lankoski, Satu Heliö, Inger Ekman
Hypermedia Laboratory
University of Tampere

Interpretation of characters is a fundamental feature of human behavior. Even with
limited information available, people will assign personality – even to inanimate objects.
Characters in computer games will be attributed personality based on their appearance
and behavior. The interpretation of these characters affects the whole game experience.
Designing the protagonist character in computer games is different from the design of
static characters (e.g. film or literature), because the player’s actions will affect the
nature of the character. There are, however, many ways to control and guide the actions
of the protagonist and thus the character’s nature. By setting goals, scripting pre-
defined actions and choosing what kind of actions to implement, the game designer can
restrict the player’s freedom. This, together with the characterization of the character,
will affect the interpretation of the character.
Characters, Design, Interpretation

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