‘Video’ + ‘Game’ = the transition from theater screens to the TV screen

Henry Jenkins, in his article “Game Design as Narrative Architecture,” highlights how “the experience of playing games can never be simply reduced to the experience of a story.”(page 2) The story of Final Fantasy X dominates in such a way that ludologists would be disappointed. Neither the game mechanics nor the rules present enough complexity for me to engage deeply in game play (maybe that’s because it’s 2016 and my expectations are generation-specific). There was more game play during my second session but the lack of player freedom to explore the game world frustrated me. Because the character is only allowed to walk in certain directions, the map is not only unnecessary but causes tension between the diegesis and non-diegetic world. Playing Final Fantasy X made me appreciate Portal for a variety of reasons: Portal is an interactive, puzzle-based game whose evoked meaning about institutional confinement is best delivered through game play while Final Fantasy X does not offer the same level of player engagement. Although Jenkins encourages us to regard game consoles “as machines for generating compelling spaces” (page 4), I think Final Fantasy X took advantage of the PlayStation 2 console to better market its game. Would it have survived in theaters? Probably not. But for a video game to advertise “stunning 3D graphics” and “enhanced facial motion system” allows it to flourish in the game market and beginning divorcing the medium from film.


There were not spaces being generated often, but I would consider my game play analogous to pressing fast forward while watching a DVD; it gets the character where he needs to be and advances the narrative. The game is great at environmental storytelling by providing the staging ground for narration, but the diegetic text that pulls me from the the diegesis and montages that supposedly pull me further into the diegetic presence is a continuous tension that prevents me from being simultaneously immersed and engaged during game play.



Henry Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”

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  1. I’m glad you recognize there might be a generational gap between you and FFX (and also a generation gap in terms of console technology too). It’s tough approaching older games with modern expectations. Building on your cinema metaphor, it’s similar to watching old black and white movies. We have to shift our expectations. The advantage to engaging with older media, though, is that it may defamiliarize conventions for us, and see both old and new media in a new perspective.

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