The Implied Designer of Digital Games

Estetika: The European Journal of Aesthetics 60 (1):71-89 (2023)
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As artefacts, the worlds of digital games are designed and developed to fulfil certain expressive, functional, and experiential objectives. During play, players infer these purposes and aspirations from various aspects of their engagement with the gameworld. Influenced by their sociocultural backgrounds, sensitivities, gameplay preferences, and familiarity with game conventions, players construct a subjective interpretation of the intentions with which they believe the digital game in question was created. By analogy with the narratological notion of the implied author, we call the figure to which players ascribe these intentions ‘the implied designer’. In this article, we introduce the notion of the implied designer and present an initial account of how appreciators ascribe meaning to interactive, fictional gameworlds and act within them based on what they perceive to be the designer’s intentions.

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