A multi-dimensional typology of games

Espen J. Aarseth, Solveig Marie Smedstad, Lise Sunnanå

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


This paper builds on a general typology of textual communication (Aarseth 1997) and tries to establish a model for classifying the genre of “games in virtual environments” — that is, games that take place in some kind of simulated world, as opposed to purely abstract games like poker or blackjack. The aim of the model is to identify the main differences between games in a rigorous, analytical way, in order to come up with genres that are more specific and less ad hoc than those used by the industry and the popular gaming press. The model consists of a number of basic “dimensions”, such as Space, Perspective, Time, Teleology, etc, each of which has several variate values, (e.g. Teleology: finite (Half-Life) or infinite (EverQuest. Ideally, the multivariate model can be used to predict games that do not yet exist, but could be invented by combining the existing elements in new ways.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication DiGRA '03 - Proceedings of the 2003 DiGRA International Conference: Level Up
EditorsMarinka Copier, Joost Raessens
Number of pages6
Publication date2003
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventLevel Up - 1st International Digital Games Research Conference 2003 - Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands
Duration: 4 Nov 20036 Nov 2003


ConferenceLevel Up - 1st International Digital Games Research Conference 2003
LocationUtrecht University


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