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Wolf, M. J. P., Chapter 5: Narrative in the video game.

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Reading summary/quotes:

Films, and TV shows tell stories. Games today are telling stories as well. There is narrative involved in the game that helps tell the story as the game is played. Wolf’s chapter deals with issues surrounding the growing use of narrative in video games. He goes on to give a chronology of examples of video games with increasing levels of narrative elements. These elements begin with interactive dialogue and develop into increasingly complex representation of worlds, including multiple player-controlled and computer-controlled characters. Wolf also points out numerous ways that extradiegetic (outside of the main or primary narrative) narration can be introduced. These include basing a game on an existing movie, novel, comic book or TV show. It can also occur through clips included on the CD-ROM or in an accompanying booklet. All these methods can help give the player clues about the content of the game. Notably, Wolf also discusses ways to balance story and interactivity so that the player has some control of the ending within the set boundaries of the narrative. This is usually accomplished by creating branches in the narrative, so that multiple narratives are possible based on the choices made by the player’s character. Narrative depth can also be added through back story, which may or may not influence the outcome of the game.

“Narration of the game’s action, then, usually begins before the player even starts the game (p. 101).”

“At first glance it would seem that interactivity and the inclusion of a predetermined story would work against each other (p.107).”

“…Growth of diegetic world of the video game and how outside extradiegetic factors also shaped their narratives (p. 94).”

“Besides developing graphically, characters had to develop personalities if they were to establish an identity (p. 96).” (How does a character get a personality/identity if the character is controlled by the player?)

“The changing nature of a games’ narrative outcome form one playing of the game to the next is one of the prime reasons for players to return and play again (p. 107).”

“If the character/player has control of the main character, how can the story be told if the player can make free choices? Answer: “severely limiting the amount of narrative contained in the game itself (p. 107).”

Related articles/class discussions:

article name (Lesson 3 Track A): Story section of Crawford Chapter 1 “what is a game” Class discussion Coming up with the story is very important to the game. It helps in keeping the interest

Discussion points/questions:

  • Did Pac-man dieing in a way that wasn’t seen before (shriveling up) help in its popularity?
  • How hard is it to build a really good story/narrative?
  • What is the following of non graphic based games?
  • Do games today contain a narrative like text adventures?
  • What is the benefit of “new and improved” graphics or animation on the narrative, i.e. pac-man dieing (p. 97)?
  • What is the effect on learning when there is no time pressure like in Myst?
Crawford, C., Chapter 1: What is a game?

Reading summary/quotes:

Crawford breaks down the different uses for the word “game.” He creates a basic taxonomy for games, including board games, card games, athletic games, children’s games, and computer games. He then goes into the four common factors of games. These are representation, interaction, conflict, and safety. Crawford also makes a distinction between games and simulations “A game is a closed formal system that subjectively represents a subset of reality (p. 7).”

“The distinction between objective representation and subjective representation is made clear by a consideration of the differences between simulations and games. A simulation is a serious attempt to accurately represent a real phenomenon in another, more malleable form. A game is an artistically simplified representation of a phenomenon (p. 8).”

Related articles/class discussions:

Find out who you really are: Adult learning in virtual worlds. (Lesson 1 Track A): The interaction in games allows you to work against yourself, others, or the computer. This is what interaction is. It helps you learn about yourself, to find out what you would do in certain situations.

Class discussion:

Design of games: interaction, conflict, safety, and representation. These areas will help in game design.

Discussion points/questions:

  • What aspects of representation make it so that graphics-oriented games are more popular that text adventure types of games?
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2008, May 20). Wolf, M. J. P., Chapter 5: Narrative in the video game.. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License
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