Kameo: Elements of Power – Structural Analysis of Participation
Kameo: Elements of Power is an action-adventure video game released exclusively for the X-Box 360 in 2005. The story is introduced by showing Kameo, the main character, storming into a foreboding castle in an attempt to rescue her family. The player has access to three different forms (Different creatures called ‘elemental warriors’) and a premise of the protagonist is that she can morph into different creatures in accordance to the power that character possesses, allowing players to enter certain areas, solve puzzles, and defeat the enemies. Having lost the powers of her three Elemental Warriors in the beginning battle, Kameo’s objective is to retrieve the 10 Elemental Warriors so as to gain the ability to become then, and progress through the gem. Shapeshifting games have been around for a while now- ‘ShadowCaster , a first-person, role-playing PC video game introduced this concept in 1993- and the idea is that you morph into a new character in order to perform activities you would otherwise be unable to. Kameo, however, slightly contests to this idea since her skills aid her in activities that would otherwise be impossible for the other characters, making her ordinal self equally important for the development of the game. She differs in her ability to sprout wings, and jump, making her the fastest character, as well as the only one able to pick up items.
Murray structures participation by adopting the format of a visit in order to establish a border between the virtual world and real life. In Kameo the player is taken to four themed areas, allow of which allow for a particular immersive visit: A dark, foggy swamp, an icy village, an aquatic scenery, and Thorn’s (the king of Trolls) base. Each area represents a different environment, all of which are a mix of habitable locations, hazards, and puzzles. By walking through these virtual spaces you are taken out of the experience by the controller, which is the threshold object of this immersive visit. In one of the levels for example, the player enters a forest in which he/she must recapture an element spirit. In this forest the player encounters shops and townspeople scattered around the level, reinforcing the live-action stage of the game and contesting to the idea of the passive player- there is always actions regardless of whether or not there is conflict. Every section of the game is, therefor, filled with activity and the mixture of friendly, familiar zones in the combat arenas make the world feel more like a whole. Players are constantly challenged and presented with puzzles, eliminating any dead space in Kameo. Since we experience ourselves as present in these immersive worlds, the way in which Kamep allows you to travel through it while being constantly active really helps to put as “on the stage”, allowing us to do more than just traveling through them.
Creation of Belief
Murray speaks of the Creation of belief as an exercise in a creative faculty. A mere suspension of disbelief is in her opinion too passive a formulation, and she argues that what happens in the imaginative world is that we actively create belief. Our intelligence and imagination is therefore used to reinforce rather than to question the reality of the experience. In Kameo the player has to figure out a way to rescue her parents after being kidnapped by her own sister who has grown jealous of Kameo’s ability to become the Elemental Warrior. This task however does not only involve relocating her parents, but also actively selecting the correct characters to perform certain tasks. Battles which are sometimes too difficult to complete, often ensures a solution which the player has to decipher. Kameo’s environment creates an immersion which stimulates a behavior that bestows imaginary objects with life. Our engagement with these objects produce a feedback loop which entices more and more engagement, thus leading to more belief.
The mask/ roles
In order to retain our attention stories must have a participatory narrative. The character of Kameo works as a mask in the game. She reinforces the nature of shared reality and sets off the participants from the non-participants, signaling the fact that we are role-playing rather than acting ourselves. Kameo has earned the ability to transform into various elemental creatures which drove her sister, the other candidate, over the edge. Though not directly inscribed, the player can assume that Kameo is a brave and honest character in contradistinction to her sister’s spiteful and self-centered personality. This inscription of the character’s profile guides the player without rigidly prescribing their actions, working congruously with the background story and the game goals. Her well-defined role allows the player to actively create belief in the illusory world.
Combat segments in Kameo vary in levels of difficulty. Trolls which are meant to be the scary enemies are sometime displayed in ghastly and humorous manner, creating a lot of variation in how you encounter the enemy and how you deal with the situation. To beat the enemies you can use a number of powers and you are constantly aided with information about combo meters, kills, and rate of attack. Ultimately then, despite having to antagonize with the unpleasant and sometimes humorous characters, the information provided regarding your health and your progress stabilizes your arousal by constantly giving you a feeling of control.
Murray, J.H. (1997). Hamlet on the Holodeck. New York: Free Press, pp. 97-153.