Tag Archives: the rhetoric of video games

The GDC Vault


Last week, the GDC 2016 was just over.  The GDC is named for Game Developers Conference. It is the world’s largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event. You can find the latest GDC vault 2016 here.  For the other information, you can consult it here.  Also, you can find free GDC vault in the past years here. Among them, I have watched a video named About VR: Designing for Believability. Compared with others, I find it most interesting. Here is the link: http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1022815/About-VR-Designing-for. The video focuses on how to immerse players into games as the most important goal for VR is to have the player forget they are in a simulated world and act on their instincts.


Moreover, the video aims to answer the following questions—why is immersion important, and what steps can we take to ensure a strong sense of immersion is maintained at all times? How can maintaining immersion make the role of a developer easier, and what new challenges must be overcome? Therefore, the speaker John concludes four points:

1) Immersed players tend to follow the rules of the game world;

2) Immersion comes from continuity, not complexity;

3) Priorities the functional, second-by-second mechanics;

4) Helper systems bridge the gap between expectation and interaction.


In the video, he mentions immersion and believability all the time. To be noticed, he recommends a book called Patterns in Game Design in which demonstrates four immersions—cognitive immersion, emotional immersion, sensory-motoric immersion and finally spatial immersion. He pays more attentions to the last two immersions in the speech while I am more interested in the first two immersions. It reminds me of procedural rhetoric. Since games can be regarded as one part of rhetoric, players are able to immerse themselves totally as result of persuasive games.


But how to make games persuasive? In the rhetoric, there is a triangle made up of ethos, logos as well as pathos according to Aristotle. Ethos means the speaker’s personal character. It is considered that only those who have fine characters can persuade the others. This is why the advertisement company is willing to spend amounts of money on celebrities every year. Thanks to the good characters of these celebrities, the audience are easily persuaded to buy door busters. The logos refers to rhetorical discourse. That is to say, the hearer is apt to be persuaded by the speaker’s logical discourse. This is because the inconsistencies in the argument tend to call into question. Eventually, the pathos demonstrates that the hearer is influenced by the speaker if the hearer’s emotion is aroused. Take 9·11 event for example again. The audience consider that Osama Bin Laden should be killed by Americans because Barack Hussein Obama manages to arouse the audience’s sympathy on the dead and their hatred of Osama Bin Laden. In other words, in games ethos refer to players or characters created by players. Without doubt, neither is immoral, which is the first step to set up a persuasive game. In addition, logos refer to cognitive immersion and pathos refer to emotional immersion in games. For this reason, players are persuaded by games so that they are thoroughly immersed.


In conclusion, a good persuasive game should consist of cognitive immersion or emotional immersion or both.