A structural analysis of Emergency3: Mission Life

Emergency3 is obviously the third in a series of a games. This game is often considered a serious game, but I would say it’s more of a real-time strategy game that makes you really appreciate how difficult being a first responder or incident commander can be.

This game takes on an isometric view with adjustable camera work. This kind of view is often associates the player as an omnipotent, neutral third party participant, almost god-like in power in some games.

The physics and graphics are realistic, 3-D, and high enough fidelity so that it looks good, but not so high so as to prohibit slower machines from running the game. This indicates that the designers wanted to make the experience as real as possible within certain constraints, which are probably market considerations.

The music often adds to the tension the player is feeling, but after playing the game for a rather short period of time it becomes repetitive, and because it is diegetic it feels extraneous, and artificial at that point. [Note from JB: do you mean non-diegetic?]

While this game attempts to be realistic, when you bring different kinds of people on the scene they simply sit there, until you guide them move by move what do to. lack of realism in a key component of the game constantly forces the player to break out of a flow state and try to figure out controls and movements instead of solve in game problems.

Well that’s it for now, but I thought I would give it a stab.



  1. jeffreybardzell

    Do you see any conflict between this statement:

    This kind of view is often associates the player as an omnipotent, neutral third party participant, almost god-like in power in some games.

    … and this one?

    this game attempts to be realistic

    As you think about this question, reflect on the film theory we’ve been reading, in particular the phenomenological question concerning perception and reality and the structuralist focus on relationships between specific film techniques (e.g., camera angles, deep/shallow focus) and the meanings that emerge.

  2. houssian

    OK you called me out on the non-diegetic thing, I can’t seem to keep those to straight in my mind.

    As for your question, it seems to make perfect sense to me.
    As one plays some games you get to have god-like view and control, and yet that can also be realistic.

    This is in fact one of the appealing parts of games, the sense of control over a whole game, and the ability to master that reality. This kind of reduced rule set that is available in games and the associated ability to predict with some degree of reliability if not control them is what is so great.

    That does not however directly answer your question, I’ll have to reflect on that a bit more and let you know. A little help anyone else?

  3. jeffreybardzell

    Given the emphasis that phenomenologists have placed on the role of perception in film, that the point of view puts viewers in the film, giving them embodied relations with other actors, it would seem to me to follow that a god-view of a game, in which you control entire environments, is the very antithesis of realism, at least as it pertains to any human experience.

    In a game designed to teach people how to react in an emergency, giving them god-like powers (and perspectives) seems counterintuitive, to say the least. Would it not merely teach them how to deal with the emergency as gods? Probably that is too simple, but you get the point.

    So the question is, in what sense is a god-game even capable of being “realistic”?


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