Defining the Interactivity of Mark of the Ninja

Posted: February 3, 2013 by kiryuzaki in Uncategorized
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In Mark of the Ninja, players make choices influenced by the stimuli provided by the game. The objective of the game is to sneak through various facilities, in order to accomplish tasks such as rescuing individuals, gathering information, and killing baddies. The game has an interesting visual feedback system, in which sound produces blue auras with defined radii.


In addition, the game was designed for touchscreens, and even on the computer it has several elements of swiping (such as killing enemies).


However, the game, while feeding some controls and commands to their users, there are many things note explicitly stated by the game, such as bonus levels, and the bonus score one receives for not killing any guards.


From all this, one might presume that the game would fall under Salen and Zimmerman’s Mode 3 of interactivity: “overt participation like… using the joystick to maneuver Ms. Pac-Man. Included here: choices, random events, dynamic simulations, and other procedures programmed into the interactive experience” (Salen and Zimmerman, 60). However, at the same time, the visual representations of sound, lines of sight, and mutable objects puts the game in a gray area between another Mode of Interactivity, Mode 2: “Functional, structural interactions with the material components of the systems (whether real or virtual)” (Salen and Zimmerman, 59). The unique visual interaction creates a system of currency for the game, reinforced by the points the player receives for completing actions such as hiding bodies, distracting guards, and hiding as guards pass by.


While the game could be lumped into Mode 3 along with most other games, the unique visual representation in the game makes it very different from other stealth games like Thief, Dishonored, and Splinter Cell. In these games, the player reacts to faint feedback, such as enemies looking around, perceived lines of sight, and alarm sounds when they are set off. In these senses, Mode 3 is the obvious choice of category here, as, with the exception of an alarm, most of the input comes from the player interpreting enemy actions (examples include looking around, saying things like, “what was that?”). However, at the end of the day, these things are auditory signal interpreted by the player. In addition, occasionally players want to cause the guard to look around, to make a distraction so they can slip by, escape, or incapacitate the enemy. In addition, the score is not visually represented when actions are taken, such as penalties for setting off an alarm or bonuses for avoiding an enemy. These auditory signals, which can be wanted or unwanted, creates a weak system of feedback. Yet, with Mark of the Ninja, there is an auditory and a visual system of currency to inform players of their progress. The visual feedback of sound produced, guards line of sight, light and darkness, and interactive elements of the playing space, give rise to structured player interactions based on the visual currency of the screen and points given or lost. Therefore, Mark of the Ninja, as a game, exceeds the typical Mode 3 Interaction of stealth games, and becomes a combination of commands chosen by players interpreting vague stimuli, and players reacting and responding to direct visual cues from the game.

  1. suzannescott says:

    This is an incredibly articulate overview of the game’s modes of interactivity (and, as always, I’m happy to see proper citation). Where this deserved a bit more expansion is in “gray area” you identify between modes 2 and 3. Rooting this in a few concrete examples and/or directly referencing the images you’ve selected to represent this “gray area” would have been helpful to hit this point home. Otherwise, great work.

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