Preliminary Poetics of Procedural Generation in Games

Isaac Karth


Procedural Content Generation (PCG) is deeply embedded in many games. While there are many taxonomies of the applications of PCG, less attention has been given to the poetics of PCG. In this paper we present a poetics for generative systems, including a descriptive framework that introduces terms for complex systems (Apollonian order and Dionysian chaos), the form that describes the shape of the generated output (formal gestalt, individual, and repetition), the locus of the generative process (structure, surface, or locus gestalt), the kind of variation the generator uses (style, multiplicity, and cohesion) and the relationship between coherence and the content used as input for the generator. Rather than being mutually exclusive categories, generators can be considered to exhibit aspects of all of these at once.


procedural content generation, PCG, poetics, aesthetics, information complexity

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Published by the Digital Games Research Association.