Pivoting the player: a methodological toolkit for player character research in offline role-playing games

Sonia Fizek

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis introduces an innovative method for the analysis of the player character (PC) in offline computer role-playing games (cRPGs). It derives from the assumption that the character constitutes the focal point of the game, around which all the other elements revolve. This underlying observation became the foundation of the Pivot Player Character Model, the framework illustrating the experience of gameplay as perceived through the PC’s eyes.

Although VG characters have been scrutinised from many different perspectives, a uniform methodology has not been formed yet. This study aims to fill that methodological void by systematising the hitherto research and providing a method replicable across the cRPG genre. The proposed methodology builds upon the research of characters performed in video games, fiction, film, and drama. It has been largely inspired by Anne Ubersfeld’s semiological dramatic character research implemented in Reading Theatre I (1999).

The developed theoretical model is applied to three selected cRPGs, which form an accurate methodological sample: The Witcher (CD Projekt RED 2007), Fallout 3 (Bethesda Game Studios 2008), and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines (Troika Games 2004). The choice of the game genre has been incited by the degree of attention it draws to the player character’s persona. No other genre features such a complex character development system as a computer role-playing game.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Bangor University
  • Ensslin, Astrid, Supervisor, External person
Award date2 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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