Rather than attempt to talk about what Ian Bogost’s unit operations through the examples given in his introduction and excerpts which we read in class, I am going to attempt to use his ideas to discuss a common tool in video games and what this operation does for the games which incorporate it.
Two universal pieces which interact in traditional literature are the speaker and the audience. Whether the narrator is third person, second person, or first person, the author creates an entity who tells the story occurring. The audience is the reader, the person consuming and interacting with the story. This is typically understood to be something which exists across the different storytelling mediums. Games, however, have a slight difference where this is concerned. The creators must tackle the difficulty of providing a story in instances where they cannot possibly create every permutation of experiences they want to offer their audience (the player).
One common way of overcoming this is through the Silent Hero. I will define the Silent Hero as such: the main protagonist of the story, whose personal appearance, voice, and decisions are not assumed beforehand but are given over to the control of the audience (the player). The author through this removes many barriers to the audience taking the identity of this character. Whatever story may be underlying this character, by giving the player control over his/her actions and behavior the game may afterward get on to what it is trying to do: create a hero. The operation in this context is that of overcoming/embracing circumstances to become a hero. The story becomes one unit and the audience the other. By interacting across the (often purposefully) unfocused character, the audience is able to be taught they can change the world and have an effect on the outcome of the story (their life).
This is not restricted to video games, however. Some poetry makes use of a similar operation implicitly in its reading by using “I” or “you” when describing the events and emotions. While the direction is not the same (to affirm efficacy), the poetic use similarly allows the author to turn the audience into the speaker, and therefore empower them to experience the narrative. The main difference here is that the narrative is often fixed and short. Because of the idiosyncrasies of playing a game, length and linearity are no longer necessary for a reader to identify with and assume the identity of a character in the story.
In conclusion, I believe that this notion of a Silent Hero allows us to understand how players of games from Mario to Mass Effect can describe their actions and accomplishments in the first person- even if describing an in world action (e.g. “I just beat Bowser!” or “I saw one of those giant spiders and ran the other way!”). This is comparable to similar trends in author-speaker-audience interactions in other mediums, but has its own distinct effect due to the nature of games as a medium of action. This is my example of how Bogost’s unit operations could be used to explore trends and better understand the medium of video games.