Introduction: Bogost, Braid & Procedure

Proceduralists like Ian Bogost argue that systems and procedure can be expressive and persuasive. Critically discuss this argument through close analysis of one videogame.

Ian Bogost, author of Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, states that videogames are an expressive medium that “represent how real and imagined systems work” (2007: vii). Whether they are mass-marketed, indie, or obscure art games, videogames are embedded with cultural meaning. The way in which these meanings are conveyed and expressed, as argued by Bogost, does not lie in the actual content of the game though, but instead what he describes as the procedural rhetoric. Braid (2008), an indie game developed by Jonathan Blow, is exemplary of this philosophy and hence makes an ideal candidate for examining the case for the effectiveness of procedurality. Conversely, it can be argued the game’s reliance on procedural rhetoric leads to it not always being expressive and persuasive, with emotional and interactive potential being lost due to the flaws in its created system (Sicart 2011). The purpose of this essay blog is to examine the ability of procedures within a system to convey expressive, persuasive rhetoric through a critical analysis of the procedures that define the system constructed within the game Braid, designed by Jonathan Blow. Additionally, this blog will explore how procedural rhetoric alone is not enough to completely convey a meaning that isn’t subjected to broad interpretation, thus requiring additional forms of rhetoric to support the construction of a fully expressive, persuasive game.

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