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Games and Storytelling

How storytelling works within games?

Britta Pollmuller

on 10 March 2017

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Transcript of Games and Storytelling

Games and Storytelling
How storytelling works within games?
How to think about writing for games?
Components of Game Narrative

Henry Jenkins
Game Spaces and Narrative Architecture

·Embedded narratives
Games as an information space
discovered, structured,
and restructured by the player

·Emergent Narratives
Constructed by Players,
for example WoW
Games and Narrative Levels
Gonzalo Frasca
Level 1: representation and events (what happens)
Level 2: manipulation modes (what the player can do)
Level 3: goal rules (what the player must do to win)
Level 4: meta-rules (what player modifications to other three level are allowed)
Contructing the Story
Joseph Cambell
The hero's Journey
Three parts to the journey:

·The Departure: the hero is called to adventure
(Someone is in need of aid, and the hero is called upon to help)

·The Initiation: the hero undertakes a journey (physical and spiritual) to reach the goal that will secure the needed aid
(The hero undergoes a process of change)

·The Return: the hero accomplishes their task, and aid is rendered
(The hero receives some reward)
Vladimir Propp looks at Character Roles

Main Characters:

·Protagonist (Hero)
·Antagonist (Villain)
·Dispatcher (who sends hero on the journey)
·Donor (who will provide with items)
·Person Sought-For
·False Protagonist (False Hero)

Supporting Characters:

·Family Members
Discussion: Propp's lists are easy to learn - but are they so easily applied to every narrative you come across? We live in a world of very sophisticated narratives - many of them non-linear - which deliberately defy the conventions of traditional folk tales. Can you apply Propp consistently if the hero is female? Are all narratives about struggles between heroes and villains - or do we oversimplify them if we try to claim that they are? Many interesting narratives spring from a conflict between two characters who are neither villainous or heroic, 'just people'.
Games are NOT Movies!
Activity: Crime Storytelling Game

Plot YOUR story against the dramatic arc
Who is the protagonist?
What is the main conflict, and when is it introduced?
What does the protagonist do to resolve the conflict?
What causes the tension in the story to rise?
What deciding factor brings the story to a climax?
What happens in the resolution?

What elements of INTERACTION can support each point?
Are controls integrated in the dramatic premise?
How does interaction or gameplay cause the dramatic tension to rise?
What deciding factor in the game play brings the game to a climax?
Is there a pivot point?
What happens in the resolution?

Can you think of three changes to the story or gameplay that you believe make the two better integrated?
DEBATE: Should games be studied ludologically or narratologically? Are games like movies? Are modern videogames more like traditional tabletop games than they are like movies?
Ludology studies the rules, theories and practices common to games like chess, hearts, backgammon, Monopoly, and so forth.
Narratology is the study of narratives, like novels, poems, movies, plays, and television shows.
What is the different to traditional storytelling?
(Interactive) Storytelling
As part of your Studio 1 you are to create a 2D adventure game

A) 1 Minute Video/Game Trailer (25%) (FB Competition)
B) Professional Portfolio (25%)
C) Finished Game (50%)

How can a game designer intentionally 'break the mold' when designing a game? - How can you integrate VALUE into game design?

Interactive Storytelling
is a form of digital entertainment in which users create or influence a dramatic storyline through actions, either by issuing commands to the story's protagonist, or acting as a general director of events in the narrative.

Focus on storytelling, the interactive story must be, from the ground up, designed to tell a story. (It must not be a puzzle, stacking or shooting game, it can contain it, but they cannot be the core focus) The reason for the game is to immerse the player inside a narrative, no other feature must take precedence over this.

The experience must involve interaction, and should not be about reading or watching cut-scenes, it is about playing. Therefore, the player must be able to change the story...

The interaction must make narrative sense and the gameplay should not be irrelevant, so they player are an active part, the player is part of the important happenings.

The player must be able to understand their role in their action.

Allow for progression and keep the focus on the story!

Here are some other games that I feel are close to fulfilling all elements: The Path, Journey, Everyday the Same Dream, Dinner Date, Imortall and Kentucky Route Zero.

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. http://www.depressionquest.com/
Games and Storytelling

How storytelling works within games?

How to think about writing games?

A REAL Hero's Journey with VALUE:
Interactive Storytelling, Activism and Social Change

Diversity, Security, Safety, Justice, Creativity and Expression, Inclusion, Cooperation, Equality, Sharing, Privacy, Trust, Gender Equality, Authorship, Environmentalism, Liberty ...

To do:
Complete your story using Propp's lists -
(up to 150 words) and share on your website

“Everybody's Gone to the Rapture takes elements of a radio play, underpins it with a core of classic science fiction literature, and wraps it into a combination of walking simulator and slice of interactive drama to create a game, product, or perhaps even a piece of art, that's simply gorgeous.”
(Review based on PS4™ version) – USGamer
How do we distinguish between various spaces?

1. rule-based space as defined by the mathematical rules that set, for example, physical, sounds, AI, and game-level architecture

2. mediated space as defined by the presentation, which is the space of the image plane and the use of this image including the cinematic from of representation

3. fictional space that lives in the imagination, in other words, the space 'imagined' by players from their comprehension of the available image

4. play space, meaning space of the place, which includes the player and the video game hardware

5. social space defined by interaction with others, meaning the game space of other players affected
What is a video game space?
Tiles for Pixel Art
Create your first mock-up
Next week: To complete your first Mock-up
Full transcript