Filling in the Gaps: “Shell” Playable Characters

  • Trena LeeEmail author
  • Alex Mitchell
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11318)


In this paper we propose a new character type, the “shell” playable character, which differs from the standard playable character types of avatars or “rich” characters. These “shell” characters are neither complete “blank slates” for the players to project themselves onto, nor do they provide enough information to be considered “well-rounded” characters with complete personalities and backstories. Drawing on the concepts of leerstellen and ambiguity, we explore this new playable character type through comparative close readings of three games: INSIDE, Emporium, and The Stanley Parable. Our findings suggest that “shell” playable characters are characters that encourage players to develop their own understanding of the character, enabled through gaps and ambiguities that allow players the space to “fill” up the character with an interpretation of who the character could be, and to view the character as a separate entity rather than simply an extension of the player.


Playable character types Player interpretation Ambiguity Gaps 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Communications and New MediaNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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