New Paper Posted: A Certain Level of Abstraction

I have posted my conference paper from September’s DiGRA 2007 conference in Tokyo:

The paper A Certain Level of Abstraction discusses abstraction in games. This is the paper’s abstract:


This paper explores levels of abstraction: Representational games present a fictional world, but within that world, players are only allowed to perform certain actions; the fictional world of the game is only implemented to a certain detail.

The paper distinguishes between abstraction as a core element of video game design, abstraction as something that the player decodes while playing a game, and abstraction as a type of optimization that the player builds over time.

Finally, the paper argues that abstraction is a related to the magic circle of games and to rules as such.

Games referenced include Cooking Mama, Diner Dash: Flo on the Go, Karate Champ and The Marriage.

The paper is a bit of a follow-up to some of the rules & fiction discussions in Half-Real – you think you are finished, but you are not.

One thought on “New Paper Posted: A Certain Level of Abstraction

  1. Dominic

    I very much like what I read there. We have been discussing a fair bit on the border between rules and fiction that you depict early in your paper on the gamecode blog following my review of Aarseth’s recent (re?)publication of the Doors and Perception paper in a journal.

    Your Starcraft and Age of Empires II discussion also resonates with this “gaming theory” thing I’m working on, so I like that also. I posted a preliminary account of my experience trying out a new game to demonstrate the working of generic markers on my blog. And your observations on game genres, conventions and abstraction are also interesting. Good stuff!

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