Fighting for the Future

Saving New York City

For the last two weeks, I have been playing Tom Clancy’s The Division by Massive Entertainment on the PC. Tom Clancy’s The Division is an online only open-world third-person shooter that takes place in mid-crisis Manhattan. You take the role of an unnamed Agent that has been activated in response to this crisis. The agent can be customized by the player to provide differences from other players. The agent can also wear clothes that have no bearing on gameplay but for aesthetic purposes only.

My Agent, downed by Minigun fire

Who is the Author?

The authorship of Tom Clancy’s The Division is Massive Entertainment. Massive Entertainment created the world and the ability to play within the space. I do not consider one person of the development team to have sole authorship over The Division as there are too many influences on the development of the game. The developers all had a meaningful addition for the game. Also, the developers have looked at feedback from the community and have made proper adjustments that have kept the game running. There is not a single developer that raises to mind when I think of Massive Entertainment. I think of them as more of teams of authors instead of just a single author.

The team that is responsible for the narrative of the game is different from the team that is responsible for the actual gameplay of the game. Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek in MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research state that “From the designer’s perspective, the mechanics give rise to dynamic system behavior, which in turn leads to particular aesthetic experiences. From the player’s perspective, aesthetics set the tone, which is born out in observable dynamics and eventually, operable mechanics.” The developer might care how the game plays, while in the player is concerned with the aesthetics that the game presents.


Why does it matter who the Author is?

By stating that Tom Clancy’s The Division has multiple authors, I am emphasizing the fact that triple A games require many people to complete. Hunicke et al states “Agents in this space, in addition to coordinating movement and attacks must operate over a wide range of sensory data. Reasoning about the player’s position and intent should indicate challenge, but promote their overall success. Will enemies be able to pass over obstacles and navigate challenging terrain, or will you “cheat”? Will sound propagation be “realistic” or will simple metrics based on distance suffice?” These ideas need to be coded in and be told to trigger at specific points or when the dynamics that are being inputted at the time. The aesthetics that are perceived by the player can trigger a reaction based on those mechanics and dynamics on what to do. Do they stay in cover and fight back or do they retreat and reset the rules of engagement?

Early Concept Art for The Division



Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek – MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research  


6 thoughts on “Fighting for the Future

  1. Wow you played the Division for 2 weeks I feel bad for you man. Since this game is a AAA title you said it has many artist. Would you share the same sentiment if you played a smaller game or indie game?


    • Don’t feel bad for me friend, as I thoroughly enjoy The Division as evidenced by my over 100 hrs of playtime. To answer your question, a smaller game or indie game is easier to identify an author, as there is less than 100 people working on the game, most of the time.


    • Funny you say that! I played this game for such a small time because of their ridiculous multiplayer dynamics. If my friends were higher leveled, playing together was a pain in my ass and I couldn’t play it much longer. However, it is a fun game.


  2. So… you keep on writing “Tom Clancy’s The Division,” but you never mention Tom Clancy. Where does he fit into all of this? Did “Massive Entertainment [create] the world” as you wrote, or did Clancy? I mean the narrative world. Is he somebody you need to think of here? Or is he irrelevant? Is the narrative important?


  3. I really enjoyed your depiction of who the author is. In my own blog I gave the authorship to one person while connecting the community. However, you connected it to a whole team of developers that worked to make the game whole. I would agree with you on that part since The Division is a very open world multiplayer game, similar to Grand Theft Auto 5.


  4. The graphics and overall design of this game are pretty realistic. Do you think this has an effect in the overall art aesthetic experience of the player?


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