The Magical Circle of L.A. Noire

Posted: February 4, 2013 by simsa2013 in Uncategorized

My experience playing LA Noire was quite different from what I expected. I felt like the Magic circle was a great way to describe the way in which play is understood for this game. A game that largely focuses on hearing cues and/or facial expressions it felt unwise to ever look away from the screen, exit that world. I feel as though the idea of mimicry is essential to Sandbox games because if the role portrayed isn’t something coveted than it is impossible to remain drawn in. Detective gameplay is often underutilized and in my opinion generally overlooked as Cops and Robbers is a staple to most childhoods.

Nevertheless, the level of attention towards the gameplay is essential in drawing the player deeper into the game as well as to the player’s success. This game relies heavily on the use of visual, aural, and motor stimulation in order for players to precede and develop through the game.  Whenever the controller vibrates or the music starts it is a cue to continue to look at the game, maybe with a closer eye, in order to find out what your character is looking for. It is even more exciting when you get an answer wrong for an interrogation. There were a couple of times that I made the wrong choice and so I needed to go through the remaining notes trying to decide which one would allow me to get back on the case. I had to spend a lot of time playing the game to get a good grasp on it because any time I wanted to write something down I was afraid I was missing something. (Not a big fan of the pause button)


As a first time player most of my time was spent on the somewhat length introductory missions that get you used to the system, MotionScan. MotionScan technology is used in order to replicate the facial expressions of the voice actors. The way MotionScan is used in L.A. Noire enriches the experience of going through an interrogation. It is incredibly satisfying to see a slight jerk made by a character and using that information as a lead to arrest suspects. As the game progresses people become better liars and it almost feel like you are meant to get closer in order to get the answers you require. I think this visual aspect allows for gamers to believe they are truly detectives and can use the skills learned from the game to do so. I believe that this idea helps increase the replay value. Before I got any further in the game I wanted to really hone in on my ability to interrogate suspects

Overall I think the first few hours of the game make it so it is meant to be Paidia game, or unstructured. To me the back story of the main character is not interesting enough to require that I complete the game in order to feel fulfilled. There are so many types of crimes to look around and solve that it makes it almost impossible to ignore the Police radio.

  1. suzannescott says:

    You cover a wide array of concepts here, and in particular I think your discussion of mimicry (both explicitly in the first paragraph and implicitly in your discussion of MotionScan) is an interesting approach to explaining the appeal of the game. I would have liked to see you tie these points together, they reinforce the importance of performance (both in terms of how it’s rendered within the game, and your own attachment to the character you’re embodying). Generally, you want to be more attentive to quickly defining the concepts you’re drawing on, and deepen your analysis. For example, considering where the game falls on the paidia/ludus spectrum, I think you need further evidence to back up your claim. I think most would probably make the claim that the game is highly structured, so some further analysis is needed to make a clear case.

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