Procedural Rhetoric of Deus Ex: Human Revolution

08 Jul 2012

There's a new two-page editorial piece on GameZone that provides an analysis of the gameplay and narrative in Eidos Montreal's Deus Ex: Human Revolution in order to demonstrate how the game intelligently drives home a message (about human augmentation) to its players. They call this "procedural rhetoric":
The narrative clearly focuses on making it clear to players that those who have augmentations will be able to finish their tasks, objectives, or anything in general with relative ease. However, this is just rhetoric in general, rather than it being procedural it simply tells you or gives you text revealing the great divide between those augmented and those that aren’t. What constitutes as procedural rhetoric in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The answer is actually quite simple: the augmentation customization. Adam Jensen, the main character of the game, in the beginning is a normal human being, free of augments. The game plays like a simple first person shooter. In fact, it’s too simple making everything extremely bland.

After an incident, Adam’s eyes, arms, legs, lungs, and other limbs or body parts are heavily augmented. The moment you regain control of the newly enhanced Adam, you notice things are already different. The first person perspective reveals your vitals, a small map, an information bubble, and more. The reason why all of these info blurbs show up on the screen is because Adam’s eyes are augmented. As a result, we get to see the world as those who have the same visual augments as Adam. To truly differentiate and capture that first monumental moment where you are someone entirely new, the game created a normal and bland first person perspective initially to build up to its augmented counterpart. This is the first of the many instances of procedural rhetoric in Human Revolution. While it doesn’t demonstrate the power gap between the two types of people, it does reveal the visual difference.