Our group will explore improvisation in gaming. Video gaming, tabletop gaming, single and multi-player, any game is fair game!

The Sum of These Words (Summary)

We will examine ways in which players improvise while playing, both consciously within the structure of the games they are playing, and subconsciously, by achieving individual and group flow:

- In single-player games, where players must overcome a challenge posed by the game given the resources they have, sometimes not in a pre-determined way.

- In multiplayer versus games, where opposing players dynamically alter their play-styles and strategies to outwit their opponent(s).

- In multiplayer role-playing games, where players must assume the role of a fictional character within a separate universe and respond to situations as said character, not as they might in real life.

Man Versus Machine: Single-Player Improvisation

  • In many single player games, the player progresses by completing a linear path of objectives, each leading to the next.
  • Some more open-ended games allow for the player to complete these objectives in more than one way.
  • These type of games are said to have “sandbox” elements,a term often used by gaming communities which generally means freer/less- restrictive - allowing you to explore and alter the digital world of the game to complete your objective.
  • Various popular examples are The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Crysis, and Assassin's Creed, just to name a few.
  • The morepresent a player is, the more he/she will experience flow while playing.
  • This applies to every sort of game, not just solitary ones. Speaking of which…

Multiplayer Mayhem

  • Players are pitted against each other in battles of skill and wit, with the victor being the one who outwits his opponent.
  • In games where there may be a set of predictable strategies, i.e. the metagame, those who are able to alter their strategies dynamically in unpredictable ways end up on top.
  • The most popular contemporary example of such is Starcraft II, a real-time strategy game.
  • Another very popular genre of multiplayer versus games are first-person shooters.
  • For those unfamiliar, the objective is -USE: Gun -ON: Man. Experienced players of these fast-paced games often experience flow.

"Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies" The Dungeon-Master's Perspective

  • Lastly, we examine forms of improvisation in multiplayer role-playing games, in which players assume the role of a character of their own design and progress through an adventure together.
  • Often the arbiter of said adventure, the Dungeon Master (DM), will have a set idea of how the campaign will progress, but obviously has no idea how the characters will react to any given scenario.
  • As such, there is a huge amount of improvisation involved, both from the DM and the players themselves.