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                     academic colonization
“Outside academic theory people are usually excellent at
making distinctions between narrative, drama and games.
If I throw a ball at you I don't expect you to drop it and wait
until it starts telling stories. On the other hand, if and when
games and especially computer games are studied and
theorized they are almost without exception colonised from
the fields of literary, theatre, drama and film studies.
Games are seen as interactive narratives, procedural
stories or remediated cinema”
               (Eskelinen, 2001, n.1
                         games vs narratives?
1)   The player can tell stories of a game session.
2)   Many computer games contain narrative elements, and in many
     cases the player may play to see a cut-scene or realise a narrative
3)   Games and narratives share some structural traits.


1)   Games and stories actually do not translate to each other in the way
     that novels and movies do.
2)   There is an inherent conflict between the now of the interaction and
     the past or "prior" of the narrative. You can't have narration and
     interactivity at the same time; there is no such thing as a
     continuously interactive story.
3)   The relations between reader/story and player/game are completely
     different - the player inhabits a twilight zone where he/she is both an
     empirical subject outside the game and undertakes a role inside the

                                           (Juul, 2001, n.1
aren’t all these experiences
                      all coterie members are dead,
                     press ESC to load saved game
“Our fixation on electronic games and stories is in part an
enactment of a denial of death. They offer us a chance to erase
memory, to start over, to replay an event and try for a different
resolution. In this respect, electronic media have the advantage
of enacting a deeply comic vision of retrievable mistakes and
open options.”
                                                      (Janet Murray)

“The charm of a text is that it forces you to face destiny”

             catharsis is impossible

from the design point of view...
Designer’s story versus
player’s story (Rouse)

                  makes sense?
Storytelling is not only about
    Storytelling is not opposed to
A person has a problem ⃗ tries to understand it ⃗ makes
a choice (usually difficult) that changes understading
and resolves the difficulty.

Essential: What? (Plot) Who? (Character) Why? (Causality)

Optional: Where? (Descriptions) When? (Temporality)

                Emotional release
Narrative: What? (Plot) Who? (Character) Why? (Causality)


     do games have...             -characters?

Essential: What? (Plot) Who? (Character) Why? (Causality)

-Quest            -Metamorphosis
-Adventure        -Transformation
-Pursuit          -Maturation               The 20
-Rescue           -Love                     master
                                            plots of all
-Escape           -Forbidden Love           time, by
-Revenge          -Sacrifice                Ronald B.
-The Riddle       -Discovery
-Rivalry          -Wretched
                            Adventure games
• Playing for the plot

  It is not the same to read about a detective´s work than to play the
  detective´s role, in a way to be the detective. Most adventure games
  cast the player in a detective´s role under various guises: the
  detective of Deadline, the mistery-writer "Shattenjäger" of the
  Gabriel Knight series, the curious traveller of Myst, the journalist of
  The 11th Hour... Something has happened (usually a crime, assault,
  disappearance or any mysterious deed the programmers can think
  of), and the player must investigate in order to learn what. She must
  look for a plot behind the apparently meaningless terrible acts in
  order to reconstruct the story from clues that she finds at the crime
  scenes and the interviewing of the non-playing characters. The main
  character/player usually has a motivation: to find a lost girlfriend, to
  free somebody, to write a book, etc.
                                                     genre fiction
    •   Explore the world
    •   Objects
    •   Puzzles
    •   Dialogues

Jonas Heide Smith
• Deistic narration
• Better Ais (characters + actions)
• Multilinearity (beyond myst), more
• Narrative decision points at key
Essential: What? (Plot) Who? (Character) Why? (Causality)

-Simple world interaction: move, talk, inventory...
-Simple battle (you are attacked, you respond)

QUESTS: Goal + obstacles = resolution

-Simple exchange (NPC asks to obtain item...)
-Breach of contract (same but reward is
Essential: What? (Plot) Who? (Character) Why? (Causality)

                     Narrative mode:
                     Reader constructs
                     scenarios imaginarily.

   “The characters in a film, book or play are the
   people that the film, book, or play is about.”

                            Collins English Dictionary
  Dramatic mode:
  Viewer watches
  unfolding scenarios.
                                         you are...

  “You are Blade Runner Ray McCoy, engaged in
  an adventure uniquely your own. But what you
  don’t know each time you play is whether you --
  or anyone else-- is human or replicant.”

        Westwood’s Blade Runner official website


                       Illusion of control
                           characters in games...
    - are part of a frame narrative (Half Life)
    - are “the goal” of the game (any RPG)
    - “live” a story (adventure games)

player                     RPGs                   character
    we construct characters...

• through description
• through their actions
   – symbolic
   – naturalistic
   – relationship to reality
• through relationship to space
• through other characters’ view
• through a name
“Optional”: Where? (Descriptions) When? (Temporality)

-Scenery (Gerrold) / Look and feel (Rollings, Morris)
-World: Physically/Geography/Nature
-World: Philosophy/Basic idea for existence
-World history
-World sociology & economy
-World rules (program)
-Why would player want to be/play in that world? What
makes it particularly compelling?
“Optional”: Where? (Descriptions) When? (Temporality)

                                 Jesper Juul, 2001.
         Readings for next session
• Muramatsu, Jack. “Computing, Social Activity, and
  Entertainment: A Field Study of a Game MUD”
• Baron, Jonathan. “Glory and Shame: Powerful Psychology
  in Multiplayer Online Games”
• Yee, Nicholas. “The Norrathian Scrolls”.
  ( Just for browsing