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While reading an article about persuasive games, I stumble upon this paragraph, which I do not understand the meaning of the sentences from the way they are structured.

The concept of authorship incorporates another feature of art more broadly: the pursuit of a particular truth irrespective of the demands of reception or sales. The sense that the artifact has something to relate and will not relent until that thing is expressed, rather than an experience to be optimized, is at work here.

...

Player agency in games of all kinds leads to unique interpretations of play experiences; in proceduralist works, such meaning generation is stimulated by the knowledge that a specific human being set the work's processes into motion.

What does it mean to say "player agency"? My interpretation of this term is an organisation of gameplay for the players in he game. But I am not certain.

In its following sentence, it says "stimulated by the knowledge that a specific human being set the work's processes into motion". Here, who is the "specific human being" referred to? Is it the author of the work, or the player in the game?

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3 Answers 3

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"Player agency in games of all kinds leads to unique interpretations of play experiences" might mean that different players interpret the same games differently. More probably, taking player agency to stand for "actions the player can take within the space of possibility created by the rules" (per a gamestudies 0802 sicart article) it means those actions a player can do in a game lead the player to interpret different games differently. (Player agency apparently is a big topic in academic theses and hifalutin webpages, as a term "everyone knows" and few define. It has little or nothing to do with "the player's sense of being in control, of setting events in motion according to his or her will", a meaning suggested in another answer.)

"In proceduralist works, such meaning generation is stimulated by the knowledge that a specific human being set the work's processes into motion" is a claim that how a player interprets a game is affected by the player knowing who designed the game. More literally, the claim is that "meaning generation" is enhanced by that knowledge.

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I think what you said coheres well with the rest of the meanings in the article. I didn't know "player agency" itself is a term used in the academic area and has its own definition as a two-word term. Thanks a lot! :) –  xenon Mar 13 '12 at 7:09

The meaning of agency in this context is the following:

2 : the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power

(from Webster)

In the context of games, "player agency" is the player's sense of being in control, of setting events in motion according to his or her will.

The second sentence you quote isn't entirely clear to me either, but I assume that by "the specific human being", the author means the player.

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I think the second sentence means that in proceduralist works (however they are defined) the role of the reader (or listener or whatever) is at least as important as that of the author, in the same way that a game of chess owes its importance and interest to the players involved more than to the anonymous genius who devised the rules of the game. This concept is apparently called player agency, as recognizing that the player is as important an agent as the author.

Explaining this argument is not supporting it; it seems to have nothing to do with your first quote, indeed to run counter to it. It also seems, if you will excuse a technical term, to be a load of dingo's kidneys (D. Adams).

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