Aspects of Play: Saints Row IV

As part of the module, the task for the duration of 3 weeks, was to look into various types of games within 3 specific bands of play to fully comprehend the scope and ideology behind the notion of play. The band this game ‘Saints Row IV’ belongs to is the Console.

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When playing Saints Row IV, from my personal perspective I found that it fell into these following categories, in relation to Roger Caillois’ theory of play; Mimicry and Illinx.

In terms of the game, the Mimicry comes from the player having the ability to control the playable character, that being the ‘Boss’ of the fictionalized Third Street Saints. Illinx comes in varying forms ranging from the disorientating sequence that follows the protagonist being hit with a melee weapon to the scripted sequences that have the player being pulled from ‘The Simulation’ (The backdrop of the game that encapsulates the protagonist in a virtual world), into the real world and display them unable to move the character model as normal because of the effects of exiting this Simulation. I don’t see the Agonistic traits of other games in the way that there’s no competitive element with the absence of player vs player scenarios and no direct activities within the game that try to support competitive gameplay. Alea didn’t particularly factor into the gameplay of the game as it was based on player skill completing a challenge with no outcome that was variable and non-static.

In terms of the elements within the game I like, I’d say that I most definitely admire the character creation within the game. This is simply because of the amount of customization and variables that can be placed onto the character, ranging from hairstyles to skin colour and high pitched cockney accents. It feels welcoming for any player of any size or skin colour as they can abundantly have themselves portrayed within the game, instead of being represented by the average bald headed rugged male that tends to be the generic norm for protagonists these days.

State of Flow, was it achieved?

Yes. And again, like a template, I achieved it in varying stages which mainly centered towards areas of the game that required direct focus and presented high risk/reward scenarios, such as the usually timed FedEx missions that require you to reach a destination within the specific amount of time set. Although I did find myself enter flow when it came to navigation, just because of how ‘fun’ and addictive running up buildings and soaring across virtual rooftops can be.

If I were designing a game similar to this, I would increase the level of interactivity. Within the game, the player has the ability to exit the simulation to explore the ship that they are accessing but it’s primarily used as a filler station providing an immersive distraction with minimal interactivity holding brief character interactions and the ‘Return To Simulation’ point. I’d bolster this by providing a more interactive system within the ship to allow it to be more ‘realistic’ to add to the immersion.

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