My essay for concept development 1. We had to analyse a game or any other form of entertainment theory using two of eight entertainment theories. I analysed Another Code: Two memories with Experiential theory and Narratological theory. It had to be handed in today.
The theme behind Another code.
Wolthera van Hövell tot Westflier
What is this game?
Another code: Two Memories is an adventure game developed by CING for the Nintendo DS.
The game revolves around the player character, Ashley, who has been summoned per letter by her previously missing father to go to Blood Edward Island. When she arrives, her father does not show up, so she decides to find him on her own.
The story unfolds as Ashley solves puzzles and interacts with other people she meets.
This essay will apply Experiential Theory and Narratology to determine the game’s theme and how it communicates it to the player.
Experiential Theory Analysis
using Voderer’s Experiential model of Enjoyment
Suspension of disbelief:The location is supposedly an island in the real world. Furthermore, the protagonists are stated to be from countries in this world. Another thing is that there’s a device in-game, the DAS, which looks exactly like the DS, and which allows the player to save their game and look at the data on the DAS cards, which resemble DS-cartridges.
A breaker of the suspension of disbelieve could be the presence of ghost boys and the fact that nobody could realistically use the game’s mansion to live in without solving at the least twenty puzzles per day.
Empathy: The player sees Ashley’s face in close-up every time she comments on things, and they get to hear her thoughts. Also, during conversations the player sees the other characters in close-up, allowing them to look at their body language.
Para-social relationships:When Ashley starts asking other characters questions, the characters look straight into the camera. Thus allowing the player to see their body-language.
Para-social relationships would also apply to the other games made by the studio(because of the relationship with the studio) and the sequel to this game(because of the relationship with the protagonist and supporting cast).
Presence: The player can move Ashley around and look at items and manipulate them to solve puzzles. User-input is also required to advance the cut-scenes.
Interest: People could be interested in this game if they like psychology, puzzle games or take a liking to the manga art-style.
Escapism: Player can wish to go to the mysterious Blood Edward Island for being able to explore the island and for the intrigue in the story of Ashley and D.
Mood Management: The player might want to play the game to feel accomplished when solving the puzzles.
The game rewards people for examining everything, solving all puzzles or even playing the game for a second time, by giving the player extra titbits of story.
Effects: The effect of learning new things of the island and the story through solving the puzzles and exploring entices the player to play the game again.
Enjoyment at solving a puzzle.
Anger at not being able to solve a puzzle.
Horror at what happened in D’s past.
Accomplishment when the antagonist dies and solving a puzzle.
Sadness at the ending when saying goodbye to D and at discovering the game is only 6 hours.
The game has a beginning, middle and end:
Beginning: Start from the ferry to entering the mansion.
Middle: From the entering of the mansion to entering the laboratory behind the mansion.
End: From the laboratory behind the mansion to the beach.
This makes the game linear.
The story, being played out in cutscenes, also has a linear nature. However, through solving non-mandatory puzzles, the player can receive tidbits of information that expand the story.
There are two main lines to the story.
The Ashley’s story which is the story player follows.
On the island she discovers her parents had been working on a machine which could manipulate memories. She also discovers that her father had to leave because he thinks he killed her mother. And Ashley is the only one who would know the truth. Only she doesn’t remember that night very well.
Then there’s D’s story, which is uncovered through puzzles and the non-mandatory part of the story.
D is a ghost boy who lost his memory, when he meets with ashley, he tags along to see if he can recover it.
He discovered he too had been a witness to a murder, but the murderer got to him. When the player discovers all details of his murder, D will pass on to the other side, if not he will have to haunt the island.
The game is divided into several chapters, at the end of each chapter the game asks you to answer several questions, in game this being Ashley trying to refresh her memories because she’s afraid she may forget them.
The fact that the two protagonists both have lost memories, and that the story vastly depends on how them remembering is already a strong indication of the theme being about memories.
Furthermore, players are rewarded for solving puzzles by giving them clues to D’s memory, and a second play-through rewards with even more story details as well as Easter eggs. Indeed, examining things is very important in this game.
Finally, and at the end of each chapter they are required to answer questions about the story. If they answer wrong, the protagonist will give them another chance, till they get the right answer.
All these things are the way the game communicates to the player its theme: Memories and how important it is for us to know they are correct, even if it means questioning them.
* Robyn-Ann Potanin’s CD1 lecture on experiential theory and analysis. (october 2010)
* http://www.metacritic.com/game/ds/trace-memory (october 16 2010)
* Obstfeld, Raymond (2002), Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories and Scripts. 2002, p. 1, 65, 115, 171