"Narrative and Gameplay in Game Design"

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I was an invited speaker by Games MOOC (http://gamesmooc.shivtr.com/) to discuss the following topic on a Youtube live webcast: …

I was an invited speaker by Games MOOC (http://gamesmooc.shivtr.com/) to discuss the following topic on a Youtube live webcast:

Games MOOC - Live Event - "Narrative and Gameplay in Game Design" (April 4, 2013, 7PM MST)

"Narratology and ludology are two theories that have divided scholars in game studies; the debate arises from determining which theory is most effective for game design. Sherry will address the "narratology vs. ludology" debate, as well as the current game design trend to marry narrative with gameplay. She will also cover the key elements of narration that can facilitate game progression."

April 4, 2013 - Youtube - "Narrative and Gameplay in Game Design"

This slideshow is featured in the live webcast.

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  • 1. "Narrative and Gameplay in Game Design" Sherry Jones Philosophy, Rhetoric, Composition sherryjones.edtech@gmail.com Twitter @autnes Slides: http://bit.ly/narrativegame Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
  • 2. A Very Brief Introduction toGame StudiesGame Studies is a complex, interdisciplinaryfield that involves the study of game systems,game structures, and gameplay through thelenses of philosophy, psychology, sociology,economics, semiotics, engineering, and others.Narratology and Ludology are 2 dominantschools of thought in the field, and a heateddebate between the schools have divideddigital game scholars.
  • 3. What is Narratology?Study of games as narrative structures:"The term narratology had to be invented tounify the works that scholars from differentdisciplines were doing about narrative" (Frasca, 1999) Source: "Ludology Meets Narratology: Similitude and differences between (video)games and narrative" http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm
  • 4. What is Ludology?Study of games as formal systems:"We will propose the term ludology (fromludus, the Latin word for "game"), to refer tothe yet non-existent discipline that studiesgame and play activities." (Frasca, 1999) Source: "Ludology Meets Narratology: Similitude and differences between (video)games and narrative" http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm
  • 5. Narratology vs. Ludology?Narratological view: Ludological view:● Games are narrative ● Games are formal forms/literature that systems that should be can be studied using studied in terms of rules narrative theories (not visuals) Source: http://www.flickr. com/photos/56017589@N07/5184511774/ Source: http://www.flickr. com/photos/tamaleaver/8232648817/
  • 6. Neuroscience of Narratives ● Narrative is a cognitive structure for meaning- making. ● The narrative structure serves as a mental tool for “conceptually framing” the world for comprehension. ● We think of our experience of the world in narratives in order to make sense of the world. Source: http://www.flickr. com/photos/lovelornpoets/6034634225/
  • 7. Emotions of Narratives"One interesting aspect of comprehension isthe evocation of emotions that occurs whenwe read, hear, or watch a narrative.""Emotions are an integral part of the narrativeexperience and likely one of the main reasonswhy stories appear to have such universalappeal." (Wallentin et. al., 2011) Source: "Neuroscience of Narrative Emotion" http://www.onfiction.ca/2011/10/research-bulletin-neuroscience-of.html
  • 8. Psychology of Narratives"How people react psychologically to narrated events isinfluenced by the way in which events are framed by anarrator and appeal to different values, knowledge, andexperiences of listeners." (Damasio et. al., 2013) Source: "Neurobiology of Narrative Framing" http://narrative.ict.usc.edu/projects/neurobiology-of-narrative-framing/"State-of-the-art neuro-imaging and cognitiveneuropsychology both uphold the idea that we create our"selves" through narrative." (Bickle and Keating, 2010) Source: "Storytelling 2.0: When new narratives meet old brains"http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/culturelab/2010/11/storytelling-20-when-new-narratives-meet-old-brains.html
  • 9. Everything is a Narrative!
  • 10. Argument Against "Everything isa Narrative""Narratives may be fundamental to human thought, butthis does not mean that everything should be described innarrative terms. And that something can be presented innarrative form does not mean that it is narrative.""Games and stories actually do not translate to each otherin the way that novels and movies do." (Juul, 2001) Source: "Games Telling Stories?" http://www.gamestudies.org/0101/juul-gts/
  • 11. Yet,GamersDesireStories! Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/32633488@N02/3060556976/
  • 12. Abstract vs. Character Games"The more abstract the game, the less theneed for a story to tie it all together.""But once you add actual characters to thegame -- especially human characters -- theressomething hardwired in us that makes us wanta story to give context to the action. Its notrequired by the game. But its desired by theplayer." (Dean, 2005) Source: "Ludology Meets Narratology: The Study of Video Games" http://www.spyhunter007.com/ludology_meets_narratology_the_study_of_video_games.htm
  • 13. English/Writing Studies ofNarratives● Narrative is a pattern of organization for writing and a rhetorical mode for persuasion.● The focal point of a narrative is the conflict (a problem that exists between two sides).● Without conflict(s), the narrative has no meaning. Source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Pac- Man_Cutscene.svg/
  • 14. Meaning of Fictional Narratives"In fiction, authors will create meaning byintroducing conflicts in the life of a character.The way a character responds to theseconflicts is part of what gives a storymeaning." (Layne and Lewis, 2009) Source: "Plot, Theme, the Narrative Arc, and Narrative Patterns" http://www.sandhills.edu/academic-departments/english/film/narrativearc.html
  • 15. Elements of NarrationElements of narration helps one understand anarratives meaning. They are like arrangeable"Lego Blocks." Here are the basic elements:● Setting - Time and Place● Character - Those involved in the conflict● Conflict - A problem between 2 sides● Plot - Sequence of events● Action (Rising/Falling) - To progress story● Climax - When all actions culminate to peak● Resolution - How conflict is being solved● Conclusion - Is the conflict solved (or not)?
  • 16. "Good" Narrative . . .● Places focus on the conflict(s).● Develops multiple narrative elements.● Organizes elements like Lego Blocks (linear v. nonlinear).● Emphasizes some elements over others (ex. setting and characters).● Uses actions for pacing and Source: http://zeldaxskrillex.deviantart.com/art/Zelda-Poster- progression. 293559142
  • 17. So, why is "conflict"such a dominantelement in narrativewriting?
  • 18. Philosophy of Language onConflictAccording to Philosopher Jacques Derrida:● We think in language, which sets limits on how we think about the world.● Inherent in language are polarities that make us think about things in binaries (good vs. bad, beautiful vs. ugly, high vs. low, etc.). We tend to assign higher value to one concept over its opposing term. Source: "Jacques Derrida: Duality, Hierarchy, Priority" http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Derrida/derrida_duality.htm
  • 19. We already think in"conflictive terms" due tothinking in language.Of course, English/WritingStudies show that “conflict” isnot the only element neededto make engaging narratives.
  • 20. Calls for Better Narrative GamesLogical Actions and Emotional Development?"One of the weaknesses is a problem of verbs. Videogame verbs tend to be running, shooting, jumping...watcha movie, and the verbs are different -- talking, asking,pleading...video games are really good at the below-the-neck verbs.""We suck at tragedy. Its not really a thing for us. If weredoing interactive Romeo and Juliet, what happens? Oh mygod, she died. Go back to the beginning. Go us. Noteverything has to be a tragedy, but its unfortunate thatthis is off-limits to us." (Schell, 2013) Source: "Jesse Schells Search for the Shakespeare of Games" http://www.gamasutra. com/view/news/189370/Jesse_Schells_search_for_the_Shakespeare_of_video_games.php
  • 21. Current Trend in Game Design:"The Walking Dead""The Walking Dead, Mirror Neurons, and Empathy" (Madigan, 2012) http://www.psychologyofgames.com/2012/11/the-walking-dead-mirror-neurons-and-empathy/ Source: http://www.psychologyofgames.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/twd2.jpg
  • 22. Current Trend in Game Design:"Journey""The Time to Evolve Emotional Content Is Now" (Lien, 2013) http://www.polygon.com/2013/3/25/4147088/the-time-to-evolve-emotional-game-content-is-now-developers-say Source: http://cdn3.sbnation.com/uploads/chorus_image/image/10414635/journey-desert-friends-mountain_1280. 0_cinema_960.0.jpg
  • 23. Current Trend in Game Design:"Amnesia""Amnesia" (Duncan, 2011) http://3amthinkings.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/amnesia/ Source: http://3amthinkings.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/spiral.jpg
  • 24. Questions? Comments? Gamer/Instructor sherryjones.edtech@gmail.com Twitter @autnes Visual Bio Access to Slideshow!: http://bit.ly/narrativegame