Who is the actor in a game? Is it the person holding the controller in the real world, or the player-character who moves through the game-world?
The answer, at least care of veteran game designer Matthias Worch (Mafia III, Star Wars 1313, Dead Space 2) circa 2011, is both, and the game designer must work carefully to keep the interests of these two consciousnesses aligned.
At GDC 2011, Worch gave a great talk that examines how we reconcile developer-defined and player-derived character identities. Games often feature strong pre-authored characters and story arcs, while trying to give the player the feeling of uninhibited agency. The practical techniques presented by Worch suggest a path to designing stories that don’t simply provide a context for the players actions, but instead create impulses and motivations within the player that are in alignment with those of the avatar.
It was well worth watching, so if you missed it way back in 2011 take advantage of the fact that Worch's talk has now been made freely available on the official GDC YouTube channel!
In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its accompanying YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.
Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC or VRDC already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.
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