The concept of a ludic systems encompasses a family of media forms and experiences involving elements of simulation, game play and narrative or story construction. These three elements can be regarded as different classes of semiotic systems, or systems of meaning, having their own structuring principles and methods of informing experience. For any particular ludic system, such as a computer game, time structure can be considered in terms of a number of distinct layers of meaning analogous to the levels of encoding identified in structuralist narrative theory: a generation level, a simulation level, a performance level and a discourse level. The simulation, performance and discourse levels correspond to the semiotic domains of simulations, games and narratives. For any specific ludic system, the overall design approach relating to how the designer intends the playerstextquoteright experience to be structured, as the core of interactive engagement and immersion, can be based upon emphasizing one of these three primary forms, or integrating more than one form by various strategies. Adopting a structural semiotic approach to modeling these layers of meaning provides a foundation for more clearly integrating design choices within a coherent overall concept, as well as laying the foundations for a more systematic study of possible correlations between design features and player affects.
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