The concept of game spaces is an intriguing one. A game space is the area the game takes place in, that the player has access to. It is obviously a major component of a game, the choice of which will have a huge impact on the atmosphere, as well as the gameplay and freedom of the player.
A horror game such as Resident Evil or Dead Space can use dark, cramped, winding corridors for its game space. The darkness and inability to see whats ahead creates fear of the unknown in the player. The cramped conditions can cause claustrophobia. The colour pallet will generally be dark and gloomy. Other touches such as blood streaked walls, echoes and screams from far away, flickering lights and so on are often employed. All these aspects of the game space can combine to form a fearful, foreboding atmosphere.
Contrast this with action-adventure games such as The Legend Of Zelda and Assassin’s Creed. In this genre the game space is usually a massive, wide open world of light and colour. Filled with cities, NPCs, dungeons, enemies and items to find, it creates a rich sense of freedom and discovery. The player is not really ushered down a lone path, but rather given a large world to explore and enjoy at their leisure. There is generally a much lighter, brighter “go anywhere, do anything!” kind of atmosphere for these games.
First person shooters are another genre, where the game spaces can vary wildly. If we look at a handful of the most popular ones:
- Call Of Duty: An extremely linear, scripted “rollercoaster ride”. Player is shuffled forward along a certain track with AI companions, experiences non-stop action all the way.
- Halo: Mixes linear corridor shooter segments with more wide open battlefields, where the player has a choice of routes and tactics.
- Half Life: Like Halo, has some corridor shooter segments, and like Call Of Duty has plenty of scripted events. However, also has exploration elements, platforming and puzzle solving, areas where the player can go at their own pace.
- Bioshock: Set entirely in the cramped, leaking underwater city of Rapture. Somewhat like Half Life’s style, but also has horror and free roaming elements.
- Metroid Prime: A completely open world that the player wanders, solving problems and defeating enemies. This unlocks new powers, allowing access to new areas. Player is completely alone and fully in control.
Even within a single genre, game spaces can have many different styles. From super linear action to wide open adventures, the game space is a hugely important and interesting area of game design.