Conway & Trevillian (2015) has a brilliant practical example that complicates some of the more simplistic models commonly used in game studies:
Playing FIFA 14 (EA Canada 2013) on my new Xbox One, I am engrossed. My team, SurReal Madrid, are struggling to make it beyond the middle of the English Premier League. Losing to West Ham United is not going to help matters. Suddenly a noisy neighbour outside my window interrupts, a particularly garrulous species of bird, either cheering my team on or booing from the sidelines; it’s hard to know. Momentarily, my conscious experience moves from the game to the window, and I peer out to get a better view of my beaky assailant.
I cannot make the bird out amongst the bushes, and return to my game. It takes a few seconds but I manage to once again reorient my focus towards the game world, belief in my team as more than an arrangement of pixels on my television returns. I lose the match as the bird becomes louder than before; his orientation becomes clear – another fussy, over-entitled fan booing his team off the pitch.
The loading screen fades, replaced by an email from my chairman, admonishing me-as-manager for swearing on the sidelines during the match. I am baffled, and, as ever, turn to Google for answers. It turns out that the Kinect 2.0, packaged with the Xbox One, tracks environmental noise during FIFA 14. If the user is heard to swear by the Kinect, he or she will receive such an email.
Yet no such swearing occurred. Indeed, my only contribution was a mournful silence throughout the match. Then it dawns on me: that bloody bird has cost me a slap on the wrist from the board. The Kinect had, all by itself, moved the bird from the world of nature straight into the game world, not so much as even notifying me of the intrusion.
How am I to comprehend such a moment? Metalepsis? Paratextual? Non-diegetic? Did the machine do this? The operator? The bird? Is it real? Virtual? Both?
Their answer is worth finding out, but I won't try to summarise the whole argument here. Their example did remind me of a similar experience I had: when I played Dying Light it had a bug that caused my microphone to be constantly active. One of the mechanics of the game is to interpret sounds outside the game into sounds in the game. I eventually realized the bug from a warning the game gave me, but before that my game experience was a weird one: to the zombies it seemed like I was running around the city, screaming from the top of my lungs. No matter how hard I tried to sneak, the zombies would hear my silent screaming.
Shared through fed.brid.gy.