Agency, as defined by Janet Murray in the great industry reference "Hamlet on the Holodeck," is the fundamental feeling of having an impact on a virtual world. It is somewhat the basis of immersion and many game designer consider that their main quest is to pursue a better feeling of agency.
On the other hand, we have games like World of Warcraft that use mechanics that go against this feeling (e.g. Resetting mission states to permit players that have already completed a mission to redo them with their friends and/or clan mates). This acts as a Distanciation Brechtienne" (after Bertolt Brecht) - a French theater concept whereby an element constantly reminds the spectator that what's in front of him is not real agency because it always reminds the player that he is in a virtual world and that in the end he does not have any real impact on it.
Even though many have gone long ways to argue about its systems, one cannot deny the success of World Of Warcraft. And all this without pursuing that particular feeling which is supposed to elevate the medium to another state.
- How does the pursuit of agency impact you as a designer and as a player?
- Do you think it is a requirement for immersion?
As always, submission guidelines along with submission procedure can be found on the right hand side of the blog. Topic suggestions and articles are welcome!
Clint Hocking on Agency: http://www.next-gen.biz/blogs/agency-beyond-the-magic-circle
- Do you think it is a requirement for games in general?