Capturing performances for review

The complex and non-linear nature of interactive media make it very difficult to refer to elements and experiences in such media for reference purposes in evaluation and review. By contrast, it is much easier to refer to content in traditional linear media. Traditional media content is organised in a strict, linear way. In print media, for example, I can point to a page number; in film, I can refer to a time code. In a videogame, however, say, it is more problematic to refer to elements whose display is often conditional upon complex player interactions and random branching as the player navigates through open environments offering a higher degree of navigational and interactive freedom to contruct a play narrative. Not all interactive media content, however, is structered, or programmed, to be experineced in a non-linear way. Many interactive learning or simulation programs can be very linear and many games do have linear elements. But much interactive media is non-linear and, when it is, that makes referencing a problem.

A simple recommendation is to be mindful of this problem and to do the best that you can when making references to a game. Help the reader to replicate and verify your point by describing clearly where and when in gameplay you are talking about.

Note that being able to give a clear reference to when and where you are within your gameplay in a particular game is an issue that matters greatly when it comes to debugging.

If you can capture your performance and publish it, then that can be used as an objective source of reference. Game pubilshers also published gameplay images and video sequences online that can be used as references. One of the best online sources for game walkthroughs is Then there are individuals and eZine companies who publish game walkhroughs. They can be used as references. Note the danger of relying on cutscenes to form an impression of what a game is like. Cutscenes should be judged in their own right and not used to judge gameplay.