Quest Theory in Dead Space

Every game develops its own hero that takes us away from our own world into a completely new one that we have never seen before. Within the Sci-fi genre our fantasy of space and what truly is out there really captures our imagination. This is why the genre of Sci-fi needs to both capture our eyes with its design while also an out of world storyline.  However I believe the major impact a game relies on is the amount of emotion and twists that it unfolds while the hours tick by within our day.

Most Sci- fi games are about exploring and taking upon the Quest Theory to really consume our minds in an unknown world. Espen Aarseth idealises within his paper that the Quest entitles that ‘You need to go here to get the object needed to take to here.’ A clear connection towards the genre of Sci-fi and this theory is found in Dead Space.


Dead Space is a simple game about Isaac Clarke, an Engineer aboard a Spaceship that has been inhabited by Alien species that has transformed the human beings aboard. The Quest Theory applies within this game by the simple game mechanics of not being free to roam but one way road that you need to get several people, mechanical puzzles and trying to find an escape.


The Quest Theory than is outlined into three key groups which are time, place and objective. This is the key component to a game in order to captivate a good experience within the quest being undertook.


The Place – orientated quest theory is what takes the hero within their own environment and how it is displayed within the game itself being first/second or third person. This also entails the type of design and if puzzles are incorporated into the game.

‘Such games may also typically include puzzles that require the player to manipulate objects found along the way, but in its most basic form the place-oriented quest is a labyrinth, where the players simply have to find their way.’- Espen Aarseth pg 498.

Within the game Dead Space you have a lot of puzzles you encounter within the game that are needed to be completed before entering another location. This is why if the game was free roam would give more aspect to explore the surroundings.


The time – oriented quest theory which are found in simpler larger games (such as Call of Duty for its aim to kill and not die within the time limit) that need a one point objective that depends mainly on time. This type is not really found within the Dead Space game because there is no timer or day setting.

Lastly the objective orientated quest theory is when you need to capture an object from either that of a non-playable player or a continuously moving object around the map. This is found within the Dead Space game that shows various non-player characters and interactions made in fighting and capturing various objects.


Espen Aarseth, From Hunt the Wumpus to EverQuest: Introduction to Quest Theory, Paper, viewed 10th May 2016


  1. How great is dead space! Glad to see you used it as a case study to succinctly address Espen’s teachings. Going off how your dossier is pretty linked to the Dead Space franchise, at least in terms of genre and the narrative, I recommend you check out the writings of Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke. Both are writers critically influential on the Dead Space, Star Wars and pretty much anything Sci-fi with a strong story line. So you could find some solid inspiration.

    Also I think Arthur Clark and Isaac Asimov were the inspiration for Isaac Clarke’s name..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great explanation of the simple types of quests that are in games, and although they are simple, they are used so often and so differently in almost every game. Using Dead Space is a prime example, as the atmosphere of the game distracts you (at least for a while) from the simple objective quests by jamming puzzles and monsters in between each point. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

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