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Posted: February 18, 2013 by mbchesler in Uncategorized

Looking back at the same question I posed last post, about why do a lot of gamers dislike L.A. Noire, I attempt to explore and analyze experience of play and narrative play within aspects of the game design.

Unlike many video games, where embedded narrative and emergent narrative aspects of a video game are balanced, L.A. Noire attempts to use a well-informed and detailed embedded narrative constructs or structures more than emergent ones. However, as I have observed, the emergent ones are more heavily weighted, with a focus on embodying the role of the protagonist. The creators of L.A. Noire might have taken a the opposite position of Salen and Zimmerman and Schell and Shochet’s analysis of Pirates of the Caribbean, “play experience should always trump so-called ‘realism'”. The repetition of core mechanics, much like in Alleyway, that also constructs the ‘situational’ elements of the narrative in L.A. Noire, parallels with the repetition of the narrative descriptors found in the ‘form’. This is evident with many of the criticisms found in class, and the formal elements of the descriptors, which essentially communicates the environment of L.A. Noire, L.A. in the late 1940s, the role of the player as protagonist, Phelps-the-detective.


These pictures is the typical digital space that the emergent narrative takes the place of embedded narrative.


IMG-20130217-00064 IMG-20130217-00061 IMG-20130217-00059

This shows how even the narrative descriptors extend to the main menu, and even further intertwines the first-person style, allowing the hands of character to indicate where the cursor is.

Risking opinions, such as Gabe Newell’s description of ‘dead space’, “long lulls where basically all you where doing was doing stuff that you’d done before”, and rely on classical game’s experience of repetitiveness as a way to construct a different type of design for play, which is focused on ‘mimicry’, defined by Caillois. I posit that expectations about how the ideal play in a video game should be experienced, and how the narrative of a game should unfold, lead to differentiations in opinions about whether or not L.A. Noire creates meaningful play. These expectations are constructed from the conscious image of what that particular game might be like, ideally and realistically, and the unconscious memories about how an ideal game should be, influences opinions of meaningful play in L.A. Noire. I do not believe the purpose of this video game is to beat it, focusing on the situation and conflict in narrative play–more agon–, but to experience the role of the protagonist in the larger environment in a realistic fashion, even if it has a slow pace and can be very repetitive. My friend who was is not an avid videogamer, but plays almost daily, said, “[L.A. Noire] is not really a video game. Its more like an interactive Noire T.V. series.” Understanding different ways of constructing play experience and narrative play, I agree with his statement because it described my conscious experience of the game, and because it spoke two less explicit aspects of my expectations, which are the following:  the preference of media I enjoy is television, and I am not an experienced video gamer, so I do not have a well formed version of ideal play. I believe have enjoyed since the beginning because of this


This entry attempts to explore how the rules of L.A. Noire can make searching for clues laborious, leaving the player feeling bored. I want examine what types of rules might make this experience laborious for some, and see if it’s the combination of the type of player and the rules could make the game boring.

A crucial aspect to L.A. Noire is the game of finding clues. It is so intertwined with internal workings of the game, that it is built into the narrative and genre of the game—investigation is key to a detective game. Most games do not making the search for objects key to the game. For example, unlike this game, one usually can just look up where objects of interest are, such as extra lives, and it would not negate the role of the player and would not defeat the purpose of beating the game. However, if one wants to cheat in L.A. Noire, such as finding all the clues from advice online, it ruins the illusion of taking the role of a detective. Most of this game’s time consists of you finding these clues, which usually bring the player to the next level somehow. Dedicated players might want one of the main tasks to be more than just walking around, waiting for chimes to sound, and picking up objects to see if they are clues. What seem to create more fun, or displeasure, are the implicit rules about searching. One implicit rule is the game will indicate whether the object you picked up is a clue or not. The fact the clue can be anywhere in the scene of investigation, even outside in the garbage, which complicates the game of finding clues and could make the game laborious.

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The operational rules also could add on to the lack of excite the player might feel, which includes looking around with the joystick, pressing ‘A’ when the game chimes, and moving the left joystick around when inspecting it to get a better look. This definitely differs from the usual tasks the rules conjure, such as surviving a shoot out. The game of investigating for clues becomes a laborious one or a fun one, depending on whether the player is looking to play L.A. Noire to play L.A. Noire, or playing L.A. Noire to play a videogame.

For me, finding clues is a fun activity. To be honest, L.A. Noire was the first game I purchased for myself since maybe freshman year of High School, and I would consider myself a mix of a standard player and a cheat—I cheat when it does not ruin the main task of the game, and just enhances my ability to face it. I wanted to play L.A. Noire because it is not a typical video, which usually puts sensationalism first. I think I liked to find clues, and did not want to cheat because I wanted to experience the role of a detective too. I do not knit, but I believe that the same reason people enjoy knitting is the same reason why someone would enjoy finding clues, constantly thinking to yourself, ‘I just have one more clue to find’ or ‘I just have one more stitch to do’. Just because you are into textiles, does not mean you should be into knitting.

L.A. Noire: Mimicry or Agon?

Posted: February 5, 2013 by mbchesler in Uncategorized


“L.A. Noire” is a genre game that takes place in Los Angeles during the late 1940s. I picked this game because I liked the noire and the idea of being a detective. On the first level, before actions seemed more consequential, I tested what I could do and where I could go. At first, the scenery and plot are the most notable and attractive. It reminds me most of “Chinatown”—a famous noire film that took place in L.A. As I explored and continued through a few levels, I was analyzing the game as mimicry. For example, as I was called to investigate a scene of a hit and run, I was able to take down the address down and look it up on Google maps, and actually navigate myself one two virtual remodels of Los Angeles. I took a detour to city hall before I went to the murder.

detour to city hall

detour to city hall

I believe that the definition of ‘mimicry’ provided in Salen and Zimmermans’ “Classification of Games” fits “L.A. Noire”, however, to suspend reality and invest the temporary acceptance of a new reality as another person, other styles of games are interspersed into it. “L.A. Noire” floats in between mimicry and agon. Even though the characters of the game are very recognizable, such as Michael Gladis from Mad Men, and the videogame could be fully explain as mimicry, agon becomes essential to the genre.

Guy from Madmen

Guy from Madmen

The film genre of noire needs evil characters with guns or a crime organization. It makes Phelps, as an extension of the player, want to rid Los Angeles of crime and corruption, instead of joyride through Los Angeles. L.A. Noire seems denounce feeling and the psych that is associated with ilinx games, and, instead of making other actors impossible to kill, the game makes the player feel ashamed of killing another and gives a message every time you do so. I see that as a way for designers to keep the realistic feeling for a mimicry game, while bolster the ‘good-guy’ feeling, which allows the player to get a sense of embodying the character. For me, I found the design of L.A. Noire interesting for utilizing aspects of Agon to bolster the nature of the genre and the level of embodiment of the player, while replicating a virtual city of Los Angeles during the late 1940s. Once I started to think about it, like many categorization system, Salen and Zimmermans’ classifications were not wrong, but might be more useful seeing each type as more a continuum in which each category is a node. Either way, it was very enjoyable to play a videogame through different insightful lens.