The Visual Element of Digital Gaming Experience in Mark of the Ninja

Posted: February 4, 2013 by zachbruno in Uncategorized

     In the book Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, design is defined as “the process by which a designer creates a context to be encountered by a participant, from which meaning emerges.” (54) During my play journal, I will be focusing on the context created through visual stimuli during the beginning of the game.

     In Mark of the Ninja, players are first introduced to the game with a brief cinematic. This cinematic creates the setting for the game to take place, and also gives clues about how the game will be played. The opening scene shows a ninja perched atop a building during the night. The sky is cloudy, and not even moon light shines. The ninja is shown to jump around the screen acrobatically and ends up on the ceiling looking down at a well lit room with armed men guarding a box.

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     The cinematic introduces the players to some of the main mechanics of the game. It shows how the ninja is able to maneuver around the battlefield and manipulate the attentions of the guards off of him while he takes them out one by one. It also demonstrates the importance in staying out of the light.

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     After that cinematic, the player is released into the world of Mark of the Ninja. The player is then introduced to his first control abilities, and as he walks into the next room, he sees a visual indication of sound (another key mechanic to the game).

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     The first interaction with guards also helps define the players relationship with them, and how they should be treated. In some games, you might be instructed to immediately try to kill the guard, but in this game, you are told to hide from the guard who has a vision field protruding from his face indicating at what range the player is visible to the guard. Also if you successfully hide from the guard, the player is given +200 points for remaining undetected.

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Later on in the level, a few more contextual clues are given to the player. When instructed to sprint for the first time, the player sends off blue circles away from his body that had indicated sound before. While you are sprinting, some birds that were sitting near you squawk as they fly away producing more sound circles. When I played through the first time, I sprinted too close to some guards that all shined their lights on me and began to fire at me. A lesson that reaffirmed the need for stealthy game play.

 

Although there are multiple facets in the way that this game sets up context, I believe this game could be entirely understood without any sound. The extent to which this game engulfs the user into a purely visual experience seems to be more than most other digital games. The summation of the visual clues allow the player to interpret them and construct a meaning of the game.   

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Comments
  1. suzannescott says:

    This is a wonderful analysis of the opening cinematic, and the cues it delivers about the gameplay. I would have liked you to expand on the claim that the game is a primarily visual experience, and generally I think this would have benefited from more concrete engagement with the readings/course concepts. You’ve picked an incredibly broad definition as a jumping off point (even S&Z refine this idea over the course of the chapters you read), so some more specific discussion of “context,” and the elements that might entail, or how they collectively create “meaningful play,” would have strengthened this.

    Also, I’m not quite sure what happened with the broken image links here, but see me if you’re still having issues- in either case, be sure to preview these posts to make sure everything is properly embedded. I’m assuming that some of your points here, like the “visual indication of sound,” were going to be articulated in the images, so they were necessary to garnering a complete understanding of your post. Overall, good work.

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