FUNDAMENTALS OF GAME DESIGN, SECOND EDITION

Player Roles

In most video games, the player's role is largely defined by the challenges offered, whether as an athlete in a sports game, a pilot in a flight simulator, or a martial arts expert in a fighting game. But adventure games can be filled with all kinds of
puzzles and problems unrelated to the player's stated role. Indiana Jones is suppos­edly an archaeologist, but we don't see him digging very much. The role of the player in an adventure game arises not out of the challenges (unless you specifically want it to), but out of the story. The player can still be a pilot, if that's what the story requires, but that doesn't necessarily guarantee that she'll get to fly a plane. And she might be anything else or nothing in particular—just an ordinary person living in an extraordinary situation.

A good many adventure games do connect the player's role with the game's activi­ties, however. Almost all adventure games treat the story as a journey (see the section "The Story as a Journey" in Chapter 7), mapping the plot of the story onto physical travel through the game world, so the player's role often involves travel or investigation: explorer, detective, hunter, conquistador, and so on.

Be sure that the player's role is suitable for the genre, however, or it could be frus­trating for the player. Heart of China, an otherwise straightforward adventure game, included a poorly implemented 3D tank simulator. To get beyond a specific point, the player had to use the tank simulator successfully. This created a real problem; adventure game enthusiasts seldom play vehicle simulations, and many could not get past that point. The obligatory action element spoiled the game for them.

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