Synechism in the Video Games Design

Synechism in the Video Games Design

Francisco V. Cipolla-Ficarra (Latin Association of Human-Computer Interaction, Spain & International Association of Interactive Communication, Italy), Jacqueline Alma (Electronic Arts – Vancouver, Canada), and Alejandra Quiroga (Universidad Nacional de La Pampa, Argentina)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7377-9.ch002
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The authors present an analysis of the first set of elements belonging to the interactive design categories: layout (naturalness of metaphor) and content (storytelling), which make up synechism in video game design. In addition, they examine the evolution of the notion of the video game in relation to the advance of the software and hardware. Finally, the authors include in that analysis the changes in storytelling, due to the greater or lesser presence of the dynamic means and the static means of hypermedia communication.
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The term synechism is a term that Charles S. Pierce coined to designate continuity (Colapietro, 1993). Although it is a word that stems from the Greek (zyneches “continuous” + ism from “together” + échein “to have”, “to hold”) and which has diverse applications in the context of the factual sciences. We use it in the current work to investigate some of the elements of the design of interactive systems which have stayed invariable across time. The notion of design in our case is made up by several categories (Cipolla-Ficarra & Villarreal, 2011): presentation or layout, content, navigation, structure, compatibility or connectibility and panchronic.

There are categories which serve to establish parallelisms among the online and off-line multimedia and hypermedia systems, aimed at education, information, etc., and entertainment, especially the video games (or videogames) of the so called digital born or Z generation. In the current work we will focus on the narrative aspect of the interactive systems. A narration which through interactive design is underpinned by components of the computer graphics, database, social networks, etc. (Mine, 2012; Denault, Kienzle, & Journey, 2011; White, Koch, Gehrke, & Demers, 2009; Badler, Palmer, & Bindiganavale, 2012; Shahabi et al., 2007; Morris, 2012; Churchill, Bowser, & Preece, 2013), and in order to increase communicability among the users and the interactive systems. This underpinning has an essential goal, to make the users surf through the whole content of the system, since starting from the first hypertexts, sequentiality in the reading of a text, for instance, can be interrupted.

The first commercial hypertexts stemming from the software multinationals such as Microsoft or Corel (Cowpland Research Laboratory) included the whole literary work in multimedia off-line support such as CD-ROM, CD-I, DVD, etc. The novelty of the interactive support required special solutions for the graphical interfaces and usability engineering in the early 90s, since the democratization of contents in digital supports was taking place. First the static means prevailed (texts, sketches, graphics, etc.) above the dynamics (video, computer animations, audio, etc.), for reasons of capacity in the storage of the information and speed in the access to said information (Cipolla-Ficarra et al., 2011). As the speed of the personal computer processors and the graphic cards was increasing, there was a tendency for the dynamic means to surpass the static means, especially with the momentum of the multimedia video games in the mid 90s. With the democratization of the Internet in the 90s, again the cycle repeated itself, in terms of the dynamic means surpassing the dynamic means due to the speed of the net, that is, the transmission of bits per seconds.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Playability: Is defined as a set of properties that describe the user/player experience using a specific game system/video game whose main objective is to provide enjoyment, entertainment and learning strategies, for instance.

Naturaless of the Metaphor: The user’s ability to understand the set of images that make up the structure of the interface. An image is natural when by itself it tends to suggest a single meaning. The naturalness of the image is in direct relation to the representation by simulation of the real world.

Video Game: Is an electronic game that involves human interaction with one or more user/s interface/s to generate audio-visual feedback, for instance, on a video device.

Communicability: A qualitative communication between the user and the interactive system, such as hypermedia, mobile phones, virtual reality, immersion multimedia, among others. The extent to which an interactive system successfully conveys its functionality to the user.

Synechism: Is a term that Charles S. Pierce coined to designate continuity. Although it is a word that stems from the Greek (zyneches “continuous” + ism from “together” + échein “to have”, “to hold”) and which has diverse applications in the context of the factual sciences,

Interactive System: It is a computer device made up by a CPU and peripherals, whose functioning requires a constant interaction with the user. Currently these systems tend to their miniaturization, the mobility and wireless connectability among them.

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