Through our analysis, a set of patterns arose that helped to assess the purposes and meanings of individual bathrooms. These patterns are immersive, ludic, and ideological commentary.
Immersive Purposes of Video Game Bathrooms
Immersive includes aspects that encourage interactivity, realism, narrative presence, and agency. Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern describe immersion as, “the feeling of being present in another place and engaged in the action therein”. Our database revealed several instances of video game bathrooms that served to increase immersion and a player’s sense of presence in the space. These instances are broken down into interactivity (the number and quality of interactions in the environment) and narrative immersion (how the bathroom itself is used as part of environmental storytelling or the general narrative).
Ludic Purposes of Video Game Bathrooms
Ludic describes any game mechanisms or structures that encourage play or are integral to a win, loss, or reward condition. Video game bathrooms serve ludic purposes when they directly motivate play or affect player success outcomes. Our framework breaks these instances into two categories: when the bathroom functions as a playground and when the bathroom functions as a game mechanic.
Bathroom Design as Ideological Commentary
Ideological commentary addresses how the design and representation of these bathrooms reflect or critique cultural trends. Designing play in bathrooms enables video game creators to both critique how these spaces are used and to exploit cultural connotations and anxieties to evoke specific impacts on players. Players enact those understandings through interactivity. In this way, video game bathrooms have ideological meaning.