About Me

Celeste Masinter earned her M.F.A in Interactive Design and Game Development at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she received an artistic fellowship from 2003-2006. Her thesis, “Game Environments as Psycho-Symbolic Allegory”, was published in the education section of Gamasutra, a world-respected online resource for the game industry.

She also received her B.F.A from the University of Southern California, with minors in Animation and East Asian Languages and Cultures.

Ms. Masinter has an enduring love for creative writing, illustration, and world craft. She not only delights in designing worlds, she lives to share the magic of design and discovery with others.

July 28 201004·24 pm

Game Environments as Psycho-Symbolic Allegory
The Game Behind The Game
Figures 31 - 35

Double Fine Productions, Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts, release: Majesco Games, June 21, 2005

July 28 201004·14 pm

Game Environments as Psycho-Symbolic Allegory
Game Environments: Arenas of Self-Salvation or Facilitating Virtual Approximation for Compassion?
Figures 24 - 30

FunCom, The Longest Journey, Nov 16, 2000

July 28 201004·01 pm

Game Environments as Psycho-Symbolic Allegory
Investigation of Psychological Maps, Manipulation of Psychic Territory and Moral Reflection
Figures 15 - 23

Ubisoft Montreal, Myst IV Revelation, release: Ubisoft, Mar 29, 2005

July 28 201003·47 pm

Game Environments as Psycho-Symbolic Allegory
Terrain as Area for Player Character/ Villain Identity Confusion
Figures 8 - 14

Dreamforge Intertainment, Sanitarium, release: ASC Games, April 30, 1998

July 28 201003·27 pm

Game Environments as Psycho-Symbolic Allegory
Exploration of Worlds as a Study of Character
Figures 1 - 7

Rogue Entertainment, American McGee’s Alice, release: Electronic Arts, Dec 5, 2000

Dedication

This work is dedicated to:

My mother,

Your encouragment and comforting words are a tonic for my soul.

My father,

Your dynamic and generous spirit continues to enrich my life.

My brother,

Your friendship is a treasure beyond compare.

Also, my Aunt Karen and Uncle John
who accepted me into their home like a daughter
and provided me with the means to finish this project.


Bibliography

Coffey, Robert, “Sanitarium”, Gamespot, June 4, 1998, http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/sanitarium/review.html

Bartle, Richard A., Designing Virtual Worlds, Indianopolis: New Riders Publishing, 2003

Double Fine Productions, Tim Schafer’s Psychonauts, release: Majesco Games, June 21, 2005

Dreamforge Intertainment, Sanitarium, release: ASC Games, April 30, 1998

Freeman, David, “Four Ways to Use Symbols to Add Emotional Depth to Games”, Gamasutra, July 24, 2002, http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20020724/freeman_01.htm

FunCom, The Longest Journey, Nov 16, 2000

Goldstein, Hilary, “Psychonauts”, IGN, April 22, 2005, http://xbox.ign.com/articles/606/606977p2.html

Harvey, Colin, “Always Take The Weather With You”, Pop Matters, October 20, 2004, http://www.popmatters.com/columns/harvey/041020.shtml

Hickman, Tracy Raye, “Ethics in Fantasy: Morality and D&D/Part II: Concerned About Role-Playing”, 1988, http://www.trhickman.com/Intel/Essays/Ethic2.html

Jencks, Charles, Towards a Symbolic Architecture, New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1985

Kasavin, Greg “Myst IV Revelation”, Gamespot, Sep 28, 2004, http://www.gamespot.com/pc/adventure/myst4revelation/review.html

Lefebvre, Henri, The Production of Space, trans: Donald Nicholson-Smith, Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 1991

Lopez, Vincent, “The Longest Journey”, IGN, Nov 20, 2000, http://pc.ign.com/articles/160/160848p1.html

Rogue Entertainment, American McGee’s Alice, release: Electronic Arts, Dec 5, 2000

Stallabras, Julian, “Just Gaming: Allegory and Economy in Computer Games”, New Left Review 198 (1993), http://www.stanford.edu/class/history34q/readings/Cyberspace/StallabrasJustGaming.html

Stein, Murray, Jung’s Map of the Soul, Peru: Open Court Publishing, 1998

Stewart, Nick, “The Longest Journey”, The Adrenaline Vault, May 31, 2000, http://www.avault.com/reviews/review_temp.asp?game=tlj

Swaaji, Louise Van, Jean Klare, and David Winner, The Atlas of Experience, New York and London: Bloomsbury Printing, 2000

Tazman, “American McGee’s Alice”, The Armchair Empire, Dec 20, 2000, http://www.armchairempire.com/Reviews/PC%20Games/alice.htm

Ubisoft, Myst IV Revelation, Official Site, 2005, www.mystrevelation.com

Ubisoft Montreal, Myst IV Revelation, release: Ubisoft, Mar 29, 2005

Vogler, Christopher, The Writer’s Journey, Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions, 1998

Conclusion

Through the metaphoric power of symbolic structure and imagery, game levels illustrate character fantasies, ambitions, biases, and flaws. Thus, they expand the player’s perspective of the hero, villain, or the relationship between them. Furthermore, the psycho-symbolic nature of game terrain can be employed to satirize society or deconstruct reality. Game environments designed to embrace one or several of these aspects demand ongoing revisitation, reinterpretation, and reevaluation, leading to games that players not only enjoy many times through, but ponder after playing. Beyond the immediate satisfaction of violence, lies the excitement of discovery, rediscovery, and self-discovery. As Jencks summarizes:

…one of the pleasures of experiencing symbolic design is to learn and perceive simultaneously – to discover intended, and dissonant, meanings, as one sees. In this sense, knowledge, writing, stenciled labels, metaphorical images, hints, and cues are neither reductive nor superfluous but an essential ingredient of style. (228)

Game worlds, in the end, could move beyond the sensory flood, manipulation of mood, direction of game play, and blossom into pseudo-spiritual experiences.