Power Dynamics in Fantasy Games

I think it’s worth examining the power dynamics in fantasy games and what makes each particular game feel satisfying. Games like "Monster Hunter" and "Skyrim" both offer the player a degree of power over the world, but the difference lies in degree. "Monster Hunter" empowers the player as an exceptional hunter, but only allows them to practice that power in particular ways. "Skyrim" allows players to kill people with only their words. Yet both these games prove to be immensely satisfying. My question is what common factors lie between them? How do each of these games (and others) feel satisfying despite the difference in how they allow their players to act in their worlds?

  • This is an interesting topic definitely, though a bit too broadly conceived right now -- the games are quite opposite genres, for example. A tighter article could, for example, compare the thematic import of player agency in an open-world game where players have lots of freedom (Skyrim) and players have comparatively little freedom (Monster World, as I understand it). In other words, but fixing the genre (open world) and fictional context (fantasy), a comparison can be made more clearly. Lovely idea. – Derek 3 years ago
  • Aren't the Dragon Shouts in Skyrim just another way to package new abilities and weaponry for the playable character in the game? For me, they're much like having a new sword or new gear. As Derek suggests, the big difference among games may be based less on packaging and more on the degrees of openness (or: open worldness?) and player agency. In some games you can only follow specific storylines, only kill specific people and monsters, etc. In other games, such as Skyrim, you can approach most any destination from most any direction and can kill most anyone or anything (with or without using a Dragon Shout), with the exception of a few key figures that are essential to the main storyline. – JamesBKelley 3 years ago

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