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Storm
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Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/12 08:38 Breaking the Fourth Wall

The Fourth Wall is the barrier between a work of fiction and its audience. Breaking the Fourth Wall refers to an instance where the fiction reveals its awareness of the audience or, in the case of AIF, the player.

This trope comes in two similar but distinct flavours:
  1. Breaking the Fourth Wall which refers to the game acknowledging its fictional existence as a game.

  2. Not Everything is as it Seems where the game alludes to its own reality as unreal.


Done poorly, Breaking the Fourth Wall can be intrusive or create immersion dissonance. Typically in AIF, most of the Breaking the Fourth Wall moments are optional or easter egg responses.

Examples of type 1 Breaking the Fourth Wall:

One Eyed Jack's Sam Shooter series includes Breaking the Fourth Wall moments when the Player asks various NPCs about 'game'. Some characters talk about One Eyed Jack (often in a self deprecating manner) and his writing process. Other topics of conversation may also earn Breaking the Fourth Wall dialogue.

The A Bomire games that share his xyzzy mythos, often Break the Fourth Wall in the form of the Green Fairy cutscenes.

Fellatrix_UK's Casting includes an alternate play style earned by completing the game allowing for the player to read Fellatrix's commentary on the game as they play.

Examples of type 2 Nothing is as it seems

The feelies that came with Escape Pod by LoveLettersToLove include a script that implies the events of the game could in fact be a film.

Fever Cabin by Goddog has the PC breaking the fourth wall, as he tumbles through his television and ends up inside a number of genre television shows.

The final scene of Casting takes place on a film set. The internal monologue of the PC shows her desire not to break the fourth wall and ruin a film take.

In the reality of A Bomire's The Backlot AIF games are created like films and the player get's to see the sets and studios from famous examples of the AIF genre.

Post edited by: Storm, at: 2009/03/17 04:51
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BBBen
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/13 07:03 The concept of breaking the fourth wall can also be applied to such things as creative use of text in a game that calls attention to the format. Some uses of multimedia or other colourful presentations of the game could also qualify, but would not necessarily.

Crossworlds Part 3 changes font to Courier New for the error messages. However, when the text changes to Courier New to show readouts of information files, the game is not breaking the fourth wall.
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abomire
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/16 19:01 You could possibly apply Breaking the Fourth Wall to just about all error messages injected by the interpreter/parser, and specifically to ones where the author speaks directly to the player. Ex. "You can't do that, not in this game." type of messages, or "I don't know how to 'open' the couch." which can be generated by the parser (in TADS) and has the parser/interpreter speaking directly to the player.
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BBBen
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/17 00:32 Good point. I was thinking of more deliberate breaches of the fourth wall, but whenever the author's voice comes in would count too. BBBen's Games
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Storm
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/17 04:26 Hmm, error messages as breaking the fourth wall is an interesting point, but I wouldn't say all messages break the fourth wall. Some error messages are just an element of the format, not necessarily a wall breaking. Imagine if you were at a play and the curtains come down between scenes is that breaking the fourth wall? I wouldn't think so unless the characters acknowledged it. I think that there has to be a conscious intent on behalf of the author to actually break the fourth wall in some way to qualify for this trope.

That said, you could probably get a trope from all the instances where poor use of the format can break the immersion of a game. The 'you can't see that here' when referring to the bodyparts of NPCs (especially when it's one of the big four) or 'I don't think that kind of language is appropriate'.

At the moment this trope is a bit of a mishmash, with three basic qualifiers:
1) The game breaks the fourth wall by alluding to its own nature as a game.
2) The game breaks the fourth wall by alluding to its own reality as unreal.
3) the game breaks the fourth wall by the fact it has the limitations of a game.

I'd suggest Breaking the Fourth Wall for option 1, Nothing is as it seems as a trope for version 2. and Immersion Dissonance for type three. I'm not married to that (especially the trope name for type three) but it might be clearer to think of it in those terms. As always I'm open to suggestions, arguments, reasoning and childish name calling.
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/17 04:42 The fact that it has limitations as a game isn't a trope, it's the nature of the medium.
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BBBen
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/17 05:00 I agree with breaking off the third one, but I think the first two should remain part of the same trope, albeit with the variations classified as sub tropes. BBBen's Games
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Storm
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2009/03/17 09:46 Re-edited the original post inline with the current discussion. Not sure if Casting is a good example for type 2. It maybe more an example of play within a play If others agree I'll edit it out.
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rabbie
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Re:Breaking the Fourth Wall - 2010/09/28 16:54 Meteor
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