Cornelia J. Schnaars
Taking a "Breath of the Wild"
The Concept of Airness in Nintendo’s take on Open World Games
Abstract With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo 2017), Japanese game company Nintendo has released a game that combines a vast game world with empowering mechanics. Under the notion of airness, this paper distils Nintendo’s approach into central aspects that comprehensively span the domains of narrative, space, and mechanics. Due to subtle forms of player guidance regarding both landscape and quest design, players must actively gaze, examine, and move in order to explore the game space. The environment is full of puzzles and hazards that render understanding the complex systems of interaction with the game world’s elements vital. In reference to theories of game space and game design, it will therefore be discussed that—based on a minimal narrative framework—manifold possibilities of navigating and manipulating the game world are effectively used to encourage player agency.
Keywords The Legend of Zelda, airness, game space, open world, prospect pacing, landscape as playground, space as canvas