Videogame Agency as a Bio-costs Contract

Pedro Pinto Neves, Leonel Morgado, Nelson Zagalo



This paper presents a novel descriptive model for agency in videogames as communication. Literature pertaining to interactive works including videogames has identified the need to overcome dyadic perspectives of communication in such works. Research specifically to do with agency has called for agency to no longer be confused with freedom of action, for an integrated perspective of the player and the system, and for that relationship to be viewed as a conversation. The transactional model in this paper achieves this by proposing a nested hierarchy of levels of communication that operate as an implicit contract, negotiated between the system and the player, where the object of the transaction is bio-costs, effected through the signalling of the attainability of understandings. The paper describes research antecedents, a research agenda, the basis for the model, the model itself, examples of how the model can be used to describe videogame designs, and future research.


Videogame Design; Agency; Bio-costs; Conversation Theory; Communication

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Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts
Revista de Ciência e Tecnologia das Artes
ISSN: 1646-9798
e-ISSN: 2183-0088
Portuguese Catholic University | Porto


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