Narrative in Games

Narrative in Games

Narrative in Games Games and Narrative: a continuum.. Storytelling Interactivity Or two different things There's a conflict between interactivit...

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Narrative in Games

Games and Narrative: a continuum..

Storytelling

Interactivity

Or two different things There's a conflict between interactivity and storytelling: Most people imagine there's a spectrum between conventional written stories on one side and total interactivity on the other. But I believe that what you really have are two safe havens separated by a pit of hell that can absorb endless amounts of time, skill, and resources.

... the fundamental qualities that make a good game have remained unchanged and elusive. Consumers still flock to buy original, addictive, and fun games, leaving many flashy products with million-dollar budgets languishing in the $9.99 bin. These costly failures demonstrate that the consumer does not desire a cinematic experience, but rather a quality gaming experience.

-Walter Freitag, game designer. -Sid Meier, game designer. “Where gameplay is all about interactivity, narrative is about predestination. There is a pervasive feeling in the game design community that narrative and interactivity are antithetical.” - Mateas and Stern, “Interaction and Narrative”

http://www.jesperjuul.net/text/clash_between_game_and_narrative.html

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Theory: Ludology vs. Narratologism • Narratologist / Narrativist – scholar who uses “narrative and literary theory as the foundation upon which to build a theory of interactive media.” –M. Matteas

• Ludology – most often defined as the study of game structure (or gameplay) as opposed to the study of games as narratives or games as a visual medium.” – Game-research.com http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~michaelm/publications/CMU-CS-02-206.pdf

Plot vs. Narrative • Plot and narrative are often used interchangeably, but they don't necessarily operate as such. • Plot refers to the pattern of events in a narrative; the sequence of events: the causal chain of “what happened and why.” – Princess was kidnapped.-> Hero finds out. -> Hero must rescue the princess by completing these tasks. -> If hero completes task, princess is saved.

• Narrative is the larger narrated story. This can exist without a plot or as a larger system in which plot exists. – Narrative does not necessarily require a causal chain. Could be a history of events or sequence, technically the level progression in Tetris could be a narrative. http://www.slideserve.com/julius/games-and-narrative

Winter: Games tell stories • A game’s narrative is the aspects of a game that contributes to it telling a story – Questions concerning whether games are narratives, or whether narrative provides just one way to look at games are still actively debated.

• Narrative is also used to describe the story itself • Computer games stretch the notion of narrative – The interactivity of computer games, like the interactivity of hypertext, pushes hard against existing theories of linear narrative – No longer just one privileged story being told; many possible ways to experience a non-linear narrative (computer game, hypertext fiction)

http://classes.soe.ucsc.edu/cmps080k/Winter07/lectures/narrative.pdf

Embedded vs Emergent Narratives • Embedded narrative – Pre-generated narrative content that exists prior to a player’s interaction with the game – Cut scenes, back story – Are often used to provide the fictional background for the game, motivation for actions in the game, and development of story arc

• Emergent narrative – Arises from the player’s interaction with the gameworld, designed levels, rule structure – Moment-by-moment play in the game creates this emergent narrative – Varies from play session to play session, depending on user’s actions

• Game design involves employing and balancing the use of these two elements

Narrative descriptors • A narrative descriptor is an element of a game that communicates aspects of its story to the player – Broad concept, which encompasses most visual elements of a game and its surrounding context • Instructional text • Cut scenes • Interface elements (joystick, buttons, controller, and how they’re used) • Visual elements comprising the field of view of the player

Instructional text

Cutscenes

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ygYaWh0fio

Interface elements

Visual elements

‣ So do the visual elements of the game places you in space ‣ Wrap-around space also contributes to this feeling ‣ UFO ties into cultural understandings

Narrative through mechanics

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/narrative-mechanics

Embedded Narratives Barry Ip: Narrative interventions 1. narrative presented as passive game screen; 2. narrative presented as on-screen text; 3. narrative presented as cut scene; 4. narrative presented as cut scene combined with on-screen text; 5. narrative presented as combination of gameplay, cut scene, and on-screen text; 6. narrative presented as combination of gameplay, sound, and textual cues; 7. short game prompts (mission hints or pointers) presented as on-screen text; 8. short game prompts (mission hints or pointers) presented as a cut scene; 9. short game prompts (mission hints or pointers) presented simultaneously as cut scene and on-screen text; 10. short game prompts (mission hints or pointers) presented as an integral part of gameplay; 11. short game prompts (mission hints or pointers) presented as gameplay, sound, and textual cues; 12. credit roll and/or ending sequence.

Narrative Structures in Computer and Video Games: Part 1: Context, Definitiona and initial findings -Barry Ip

Embedded Narratives: analysis (1)

Narrative Structures in Computer and Video Games: Part 1: Context, Definitiona and initial findings -Barry Ip

Embedded Narratives: analysis (2)

Narrative Structures in Computer and Video Games: Part 1: Context, Definitiona and initial findings -Barry Ip

Story Graphs

Narrative Structures in Computer and Video Games: Part 1: Context, Definitiona and initial findings -Barry Ip

Three act structure

http://www.cod.edu/people/faculty/pruter/film/threeact.htm

The Amnesia problem

http://www.giantbomb.com/amnesia/92-286/games/

“Emotional rollercoaster”

http://www.musik-therapie.at/PederHill/Structure&Plot.htm

Pacing

http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/episode-07-pacing

Take home (Ximplification) • Everything contributes to the narrative – Intro screen – Framing – Interaction – Cut scenes / videos

• Structure and Pacing