Skip to Main Content


Finding Video Games Where They Play: The Unique Aesthetics of Decision Design
Trevor Ruben, Spring 2017

Director: Jennifer Maher
Committee Members: Jody Shipka and Craig Saper

This thesis conceptualizes a code-first view of video games called decision design to enable an essentialist understanding of this complex form for the sake of wide-scope genre typification. By setting video games within the culture-transitionary state of electracy and as objects in inclusive, rather than prescriptive, theories of genre, the invention of the form-wide video game genre that comes to be known therein as the aesthetics of becoming constructs a value for narratology without the unnecessary privileging of it, as something held within a framework recognizing interactivity above all else. This interactive, or playful/ludic, framework views video games as “systems of systems,” in which a player’s choosing of one action to the next as a reaction to the intermixing of systems of the game is a coder-prescribed construction, which enables a specific role becoming over the course of a game. These becomings are subsequently sub-categorized as, but not limited to, becomings of the wanderer, storyteller, and engineer.