I’ve been interested in how levels and ‘space’ work in various types of games. Rather than concentrating on the rendered images of video games and the aesthetics of games, I am interested in imagining the ‘black box’ space that the games operate within, and how the players are able to access each space, and how the unlocking of levels changes the imaginary black box.
I have drawn up my thoughts on 4 different types of games, 2 video games, a sport, and an unlimited game.
The unlimited game, Lego or Minecraft, works as an inverted pyramid, with no external space boundaries, unlimited expansion possibilities. At the base of the inverted pyramid is the simplest of all connections, 2 pieces or 2 pixels, as the connections and play become more advanced, the ‘levels’ increase in size and difficulty. The pyramid is incomplete, illustrating the infinite possibilities available to continue to create new levels of complexity.
The sport, in this case hockey, but it applies to any opponent based sport. The game takes place repeatedly over the same bounded space, i.e. the pitch, with each team taking it in turns with possession to attempt to ‘complete’ a level, or in other words, score a goal. As soon as the possession switches to the opposing team a new ‘level’ is begun. The diagram shows the time of the game in the vertical axis.
An video game world like GTA V where the overall game space is large and fully explorable (for the most part) from the very start of the game. Levels are organised in a pyramidal style arrangement which are accessed through specific locations on the overall map. This is also applicable to online RPGs like World of Warcraft but on a much larger scale.
And finally a more standardised video game world, most commonly found in First Person Shooter games, where the world is linearly explored, and you can only access the amount of the world needed to unlock the next space. These linear levels vary in size, shape and difficulty but you cannot access 3 until 2 has been completed, although spaces may be reused again and again for different levels, there is still only 1 route through the game space, unlike the map based game shown above, where you can step out of a pyramid at any time, and move into another one.