大约在50年前，工程师Stephen Russell创造并在PDP-1小型机上运行了游戏《SpaceWar》（游戏邦注：这是世界上第一款真正意义上，可娱乐性质的电子游戏），同时Umberto Eco（意大利学者兼作家）发行了著作《The Open Work》（1962）。在书中，Eco将“开放性作品”定义为读者参与内容描述的行为。这些作品的作者们不仅邀请读者们帮他们阐述文本，而且还让他们在文本的构建中扮演着非常重要的角色。他们提供给读者一整套的规则和元素，并随机结合在一起创造出大量的文本变量。这就是我们将在本文中阐述的突变性，并且与故事叙述紧密地结合在一起。虽然我们能够在此看到各种变量，而当这些变量也能够单独出现时更像是一种美学体验。
Is Emergence the Nature of Games?
by Altug Isigan
Almost 50 years ago, just around the times when engineer Stephen Russell created and ran the game Spacewar! on a car-sized PDP-1 computer at the MIT labs (Juul, 2001), Umberto Eco published his book The Open Work (1962). In this book, Eco defines “open works” as narratives that manifest themselves as the reader interferes with them. They invite readers not only to interprete the text, but to play an active role in their configuration as texts. They provide the readers with a set of rules and elements that may be combined randomly to yield a large number of text variations. We speak of emergent yet coherent narratives here. A large number of variations come to life. Yet each one of them individually makes sense as an aesthetic experience. Two examples of such permutative narratives are George Perec’s Life: A Manual, and Raymond Queneau’s A Hundred Billion Poems.
Ludology seems to be convinced that only games possess this quality of emergence. To many ludologists, “narrative” (which they perceive as being of a “scripted” nature) is against the emergent nature of games. Jesper Juul for example says that when you apply narrative to games, you destroy their emergent character and they turn into games of progession (2002). However, Eco’s work, and the literature examples above, clearly show that narrativity and emergence aren’t mutually exclusive. This urges me to rethink the notion of “emergence”: Can we speak of emergence as being the nature of only certain media, but not others? Can we safely assume that there is a type of medium that renders “emergent” every instance of its use?
I believe that Ludologists come to a too hasty conclusion in regard to games being emergent by their very nature. Interactivity seems to be enough to convince Ludology that game system are truly non-linear. I see two problems here:
1) The need to explain patterns in emergent behavior.
2) A theorethical challenge: Could it be that emergence needs to be crafted artificially rather than being the nature of games?
In this article I will elaborate on these two problems.
Emergent Behavior and the Necessity Cap
There is a famous quote of Berthold Brecht: “The shortest line between two points –if there’s an obstacle inbetween- is a curve.”
This is actually a very good definition of the notion of conflict in classical drama theory. Technically speaking, any character who is trying to solve a conflict is subject to necessity. Necessity addresses the fact that there is a force at play that keeps the character on search for a optimal solution to the conflict that she is facing. In other words, necessity renders “logical” and meaningful only certain types of actions. In the light of necessity, only a limited part of the available possibility space is of use; the useless parts will probably never be discovered. This means that even if we could, we do not simply roam freely in the open world: Our actions are rather motivated and telic. This goal-orientedness causes patterns to emerge in the ongoing emergent behavior.
Drama theory addresses these issues under the topic of motivation and asks the following questions: “Why can the character not simply walk away and ignore the challenge? When arriving at decision nodes, why does the character chose what is good for the story?” To illustrate the point, let’s have a look at a formal game with emergent qualities: Tetris.
Doing nothing results in a straight line from A to B.
But if we attempt to change this algorithmic fate, we draw a curve!
The more we try, the more curves we create!
This may still look like we have a lot of emergence and non-linearity here. Yet to me the non-linearity that emerges here is rather limited. I see in all this some quite linear drama! While every playing session may vary considerably, we basically push ourselves through the same A –> B sequence over and over again. In other words, the system is quite deterministic, and player behavior is quite patterned.
But why? Because we are motivated by necessity. This doesn’t leave much space for the type of deviation and free-roaming we credit non-linearity for. Necessity puts an invisible cap on experimentations; a cap which I call the Necessity Cap.
Chaos theory would probably consider these types of games as examples of aperiodic behavior, something that is slightly less linear than linearity. In each “free” iteration similar behavior emerges due to the forces that are at play. In aperodic behavior, there is a single attractor that structures emergent behavior so that it takes similar shapes while on its way to a predictable end.
We could say that in most video games, necessity works like an attractor. Hence emergent player behavior in these games tends to display a pattern. In his On Certainty, Wittgenstein uses a metaphor for player moves that fits the attractor notion perfectly: “I do not explicitly learn the propositions that stand fast for me. I can discover them subsequently like the axis around which a body rotates. This axis is not fixed in the sense that anything holds it fast, but the movement around it determines its immobility” [emphasis is mine] (1969: 22). Necessity forces us to find a solution, and as we move and try, our actions help a goal to crystalize.
The overall narrative construct that we face here then can be said to be quite predictable, linear, and closed. Hence I dare to call these kind of “emergent” games pseudo-non-linear: Despite their openness, these games are built around relatively narrow possibility space and an essentially linear premise. They are much more a repetition of the same sequence of events as of being truly open-ended and non-linear.
Controlled Emergence as a Design Achievement
My second question was asking whether we can safely assume that the game medium renders every instance of its use emergent. Looking at the relationship between game difficulty and possibility space may give us an idea. Have a look at the diagram below:
Considering the diagram, we may claim that under certain conditions a non-linear system may turn linear, and vice versa. This situation seems to put a dent to claims that emergence is the “nature” of the game medium. Actually, we could say that under certain conditions games resist to ambitions of emergence. In other words, the designer has to craft and maintain the conditions of emergence.For example using save-points and extra-lives is a way to artificially overcome problems of insufficient possibility space under hard difficulty settings.
My conclusion here is that neither games nor narratives have a “nature” that by default allows us to label them as open or closed. Maybe we are just making the mistake of seeing the aesthetic conventions of a certain historical mode of production in a particular medium as the nature of that medium. 
Both linearity and non-linearity are design achievements, depending on authorial skill and intention. The medium won’t do the work for us, because it does not recognize linearity or non-linearity. It just makes itself available to our vision and it’s up to us to realize that vision by bending the medium as to serve our needs. If we manage to keep it linear, it will be linear. If we manage to keep it non-linear, it will be non-linear. And if we manage to do so, it will start out emergent, but collapse into a state in which nothing can emerge anymore.（source:gamasutra）