Monday, 1 October 2012



What is Ludology?

Ludology is the rather off-putting term given to the study of games, the people who play games, and how games feature in our society.

Genres and terminology

So let’s start at the beginning here, what is a video game exactly? A game allows you (the player) to usually control a virtual character, who has to face challenges or navigate puzzles or similar obstacles to progress through levels in the game to reach the end. Now that is a very basic outline of the structure of games and most modern games add story and narration and various other elements, but at their core most games follow it.

If you are unfamiliar with games or perhaps don’t play them very often here are some important terms which you may hear a lot

-The Player / Player Character: This refers to the person or character that you control in the game,                                who is usually the protagonist or main character of the game.

-HUD: This stand for Heads Up Display, and it refers to all the on screen information you see when playing the game, for example life bars, time remaining to complete a level, maps.

-Menu: Games usually have a few menu’s in the game such as the start menu, which gives you the option to start a new game, load a saved game, change game options, or quit the same the game along with other choices depending on the game. Other menus include pause menu when you have paused the game and.

-Cut Scenes / In-Game Cinematic: This is a small section of the game, usually between a few seconds and a couple of minutes long where the player loses control of the game, and gameplay is replaced with an animation or movie that usually tells a part of the games story or shows the player where to go.

-UI / User Interface: The means by which the player and the game interact with each other. This consists of two parts. The on screen information the game displays to the user, prompts, on screen messages, which tell the user what to do, and on the other side the buttons or keys the user presses, moving a joystick, pressing a screen or any kind of input to the game.

-Level: A level in a game is a section or part of the whole entity. Games are mostly broken down into levels, with the player starting at the first level or level one, and upon reaching the end of level one then level two is loaded and so on.

-Credits: This is a list of all the people and companies involved with the creation and publishing of the games, which is usually displayed after you finished the game.

-Genres: Each game produced will fall into a certain genre (much like films have comedies, action films etc.) with each one having the player interact with the game in a different way. Examples of these genres in games include FPS (or first person shooter) Puzzle or RPG (role playing game). In the next section I’ll go through a full list of these and explain each one.

Types of Gamers

There are typically two types of gamer (or people who play games). People who might spend a small amount of time playing games and who like a game to be easy to pick up and play without having hours of story to sit through and who don’t like complicated controls to get used to would be considered “casual gamers”.  These players consist of a large percentage of the market however due to machines like the Nintendo Wii suiting this kind of gamer.

“Hard-core Gamers” spend much more time playing games, usually every day and prefer an engrossing story to get into and tend to dislike simplified controls and gameplay (the more difficult and challenging the better). Also these players are usually much more competitive, spending a lot of time competing online in games such as World of Warcraft and Call of Duty Black Ops against each other. This kind of gamer usually prefers the Xbox 360 or PS3 consoles or PC gaming as opposed to the Wii or other handheld devices.

Company Involvement

First Party Companies are companies that own the platform on which a game was made, such as Sony who own the PS3, and they may also develop their own games for their machine, as Nintendo do. The main First Party Companies are Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Third Party is a company that isn’t owned by the platform owner, and who doesn’t own the platform themselves, but who makes a game for the platform, often multiple platforms. For example EA are a Third Party Company that makes games for a variety of platforms such as PS3 Xbox 360 PC Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, and Sony PSP etc.

The people who make the game

Game development companies consist of teams of people with different skills who work together to produce games, which has come a long way from the days of someone designing and creating a game in their bedroom. In larger companies there will obviously be more staff and larger groups of people working together and for example loads of artists with one head artist but this is a list of the main jobs:

-       Game Designer: This person will design the core elements of the game, and how the game will be played. Usually the other members of the team will consult with this person about how to make their part (e.g. the art style) fit into the idea of the game.

-     Programmer: The programmer writes the code or the software behind the game that lets the game actually work.

-    Modeller: Working closely with the artists the 3D modeller makes models of characters and locations in the game from drawings by the artists, usually first in clay before making 3D models on a PC.

-        Artist/Graphic Designer: The artist draws concept art of characters and areas from the game, based on the ideas of the game designer. These will then be made into models which eventually will become parts of the game.

-    Sound Engineer/Designer: An often overlooked part, the sound of a game, be it ambient noises or sound effects, or a moving or memorable soundtrack is an important part of any game. This person will record needed sounds depending on the needs of the game, as well as coming up with music for the game. The Final Fantasy series of games always have a great score of music accompanying each game, written by composers and performed by an orchestra.

-    Writer: As games have developed over the years and begun to deal with more adult or complicated topics and scenarios they have had more and more complex plot lines and stories behind them. To facilitate this writers are hired to come in and write the narration for the game (how the story is told to the player).

-        Localisation Team: With games being released all over the world when a particular game is made it must be able to be played in a vast amount of countries and languages, so the localisation team is in charge of this. In addition to changing the original language of the game they may also have to edit certain parts that may have religious or cultural implications in a certain country.

To see what the industry is like in Ireland right now and to keep up with new events happening check out the site below:

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