Games as State Machines: Designing the Boundaries of the Magic Circle
Date and Time: 13/10/2022 (09:00-10:35)
Angelos Papavlasopoulos, Agnes Papadopoulou, Andreas Giannakoulopoulos
Keywords: Game Boundaries, Game Design, State Machines, Games and Communication, Magic Circle

Games and players, a union, a closed system, a state machine. Games yield numerous affordances; ranging from narrative and exploration to interaction with other players. Each one of them is materialized within the game world; a mutual make-believe convention that players acknowledge by “entering” the game world; thus, it is crucial to distinguish the game part that marks the players' common admission of the game boundaries. From an outward to inward perspective the first thing that separate games from reality are the boundaries of the game world. Huizinga compared these boundaries with a thin-layered glass dome within which all the “playful” contents of a game coexist harmoniously. The magic circle is formulated by the totality of game dynamics as determined by the mechanics and rules of the game system itself. This fine line defines the boundaries of the game world. Despite the fact that Huizinga's paradigm seems sound in its conception, it does not fully capture the entire range of boundaries and their applications within games. Playing a game indicates player interaction with a state machine. Games offer particular states which may be altered by players’ interaction through achieving goals or encountered challenges. Although game states are temporary, their duration is highly affected by players’ handling. This interchange of players’ actions and their effect upon the game states constitutes the foundation of player-game communication and embodies the common admission of the game boundaries. The contribution of this research is to further examine through a designer’s lens, the relationship and communication of two worlds; the game world and reality. The means that players communicate with the game as a machine (components, NPCs, other players, etc.) opposing to the way that the game communicates with reality. The present game analysis research focuses on the formulation of a boundary classification framework and their affordances on the impact of communication of game and players; aiming towards an alternative approach to games as state machines and the potentialities provided for player-game communication.

Arsenault, D., & Perron, B. (2009). In the Frame of the Magic Cycle: The Circle(S) of Gameplay. In The Video Game Theory Reader 2 (pp. 109–131). London: Routledge.
Bates, B. (2004). Game Design (J. Davidson, ed.). Boston: Premier Press.
Caillois, R., & Barash, M. (2001). Man, Play, and Games. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Calleja, G. (2011). In-Game from Immersion to Incorporation. London: The MIT Press.
Costikyan, G. (2002). I Have No Words & I Must Design: Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games. Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference, 9–33. Tampere: Tampere University Press.
Crawford, C. (1984). The Art of Computer Game Design. Washington: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media.
Fullerton, T. (2014). Game Design Workshop a Playercentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (3rd Editio). Boca Raton: CRC Press.
Gerrish, G. (2018). NieR (De)Automata: Defamiliarization and the Poetic Revolution of NieR: Automata. DIGRA 2018 – The Game Is the Message.
Huizinga, J. (1949). Homo Ludens: a Study of the Play-element in Culture. New York: Routledge.
Ihamäki, P., & Tuomi, P. (2009). Understanding 21st Century’s Mobile Device-based Games Within Boundaries. Breaking New Ground: Innovation in Games, Play, Practice and Theory - Proceedings of DiGRA 2009.
Järvinen, A. (2003). Making and Breaking Games: A Typology of Rules. DiGRA 2003, (January 2003), 68–79.
Jørgensen, K. (2014). Devil’s Plaything: on the Boundary Between Playful and Serious. Proceedings of Nordic DiGRA 2014, 118–119.
Koster, R. (2005). A Theory of Fun for Game Design (2nd Editio; J. Duntemann, ed.). Arizona: Paraglyph Press.
Levy, P. (1998). Becoming Virtual: Reality in the Digital Age. New York: Plenum Trade.
Rogers, S. (2014). Level Up!: the Guide to Great Video Game Design (2nd Editio). Sussex: Wiley.
Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2004). Rules of Play Game Design Fundamentals. London: MIT Press.
Schell, J. (2008). The Art of Game Design a Book of Lenses. Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.
Selinker, M., & Snyder, T. (2018). Puzzlecraft: The DLC. Renton: Lone Shark Games.
Selinker, M., Snyder, T., Weidling, G., & Heaney, F. (2018). Puzzlecraft: How to Make Every Kind of Puzzle. Renton: Lone Shark Games.
Suter, B., Kocher, M., & Bauer, R. (2018). Games and Rules: Game Mechanics for the “Magic Circle.” Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.
Sutton-Smith, B. (2001). The Ambiguity of Play. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Yee, N. (2006). The Labor of Fun: How Video Games Blur the Boundaries of Work and Play. Games and Culture, 1(1), 68–71.


EUTIC 2022

Text To SpeechText To Speech Text ReadabilityText Readability Color ContrastColor Contrast
Accessibility Options