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A Comprehensive Model for Analyzing Investigation Elements in Games


Core Concepts
The 4E conceptual model provides a comprehensive framework for understanding investigation games elements.
Abstract
The 4E conceptual model, developed to analyze investigation games from a game design perspective, encompasses Exploration, Elicitation, Experimentation, and Evaluation. Grounded Theory methodology was utilized to construct the model, comparing it to existing literature. The study aims to understand how game design elements related to investigation are structured in games. The Exploration process allows players agency in investigating mysteries. Elicitation involves extracting crucial clues from the environment. Experimentation entails testing hypotheses and uncovering leads. Evaluation provides feedback on the effectiveness of experiments. The 4E model presents an abstract gameplay loop that iterates through these components cyclically.
Stats
Thirty-two games were analyzed with an estimated total of 2700 minutes. Clue features non-linear Exploration Progress and Clue Discrimination. Her Story offers completely nonlinear Exploration Progress and minimalistic gameplay mechanics.
Quotes
"Investigation games grant agency to players in simulating the experience of being an investigator." "Exploration involves discovering information by actively navigating through various areas." "Experimentation fosters engagement by encouraging trial and error and critical thinking."

Deeper Inquiries

How do board games like Clue differ in implementing the 4E model compared to video games?

In board games like Clue, the implementation of the 4E model differs from video games primarily due to the physical and interactive nature of board game mechanics. In Clue, Exploration is limited to moving around spaces on a game board rather than navigating a virtual environment. Elicitation in Clue involves players asking questions and deducing information based on responses from other players, which is more interpersonal compared to digital interactions in video games. Experimentation in Clue revolves around making guesses based on gathered clues within set rules of gameplay, while Evaluation provides immediate feedback through game mechanics such as revealing correct or incorrect guesses. On the other hand, video games offer a more immersive experience with Exploration allowing for non-linear progression through digital environments using controllers or keyboards. Elicitation may involve interacting with NPCs or objects within the game world to gather information. Experimentation can be more varied and complex in video games due to the range of actions available to players beyond traditional board game mechanics. Evaluation feedback can be presented dynamically through visuals, audio cues, or narrative developments based on player choices.

What potential challenges may arise when applying the 4E model to different genres of investigation games?

When applying the 4E model to different genres of investigation games, several challenges may arise: Genre-specific Mechanics: Different genres may have unique gameplay mechanics that do not align perfectly with all aspects of the 4E model. Adapting the model to suit diverse gameplay styles without losing its core elements could be challenging. Narrative Complexity: Some investigation games have intricate storylines that intertwine with gameplay elements. Balancing narrative depth with investigative gameplay components within the framework of Exploration, Elicitation, Experimentation, and Evaluation might pose difficulties. Player Agency: Ensuring player agency and meaningful choices throughout each stage of investigation could be challenging across various genres where linearity or open-world exploration varies significantly. Feedback Systems: Providing effective evaluation feedback tailored to different types of investigations can be complex depending on how outcomes are determined and communicated back to players cohesively across diverse genres. Integration with Game Design Elements: Harmonizing elements specific to each genre such as combat mechanics in action-investigation hybrids or puzzle-solving dynamics in mystery-adventure titles while maintaining coherence within the 4E framework presents a challenge.

How can the 4E model be integrated with narrative-based models to enhance game dynamics?

Integrating the 4E model with narrative-based models can enrich game dynamics by combining structured investigative processes with compelling storytelling elements: Character Development: Narrative-based models often focus on character arcs and plot progression; integrating this aspect into Investigation Games using elements from Elicitation (character dialogues) and Evaluation (story-driven feedback) enhances player engagement by immersing them deeper into both gameplay mechanics and storyline development. 2Pacing Control: By aligning key plot points or revelations from narrative structures with moments of experimentation (Experiment Scheduling), developers can control pacing effectively while ensuring that player actions drive both investigative progressions as well as story revelations at strategic intervals. 3Thematic Consistency: Integrating thematic motifs established through narratives into exploration spaces (Exploration Space) helps create cohesive worlds where environmental details contribute meaningfully towards unraveling mysteries alongside advancing plotlines. Overall,the integration allows for a holistic gaming experience where engaging investigations are seamlessly woven into rich narratives, providing players not only an intellectually stimulating challenge but also an emotionally resonant journey throughout their gaming experience.
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