Videogame Narrative


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Talk at the "UBIGAMES, Conference in Digital Game Design and Develpment", University of Beira Interior. 5 June 2014

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Videogame Narrative

  1. 1. Videogame Narrative Nelson Zagalo, University of Minho Covilhã, Portugal 5th June 2014 UBIGAMES, Conference in Digital Game Design and Develpment
  2. 2. Nature is made of interdependency, the principle that rules all network systems.
  3. 3. In all these years, our brains co-evolved along with language, and with the process we now call storytelling, which probably is the most elaborated “technology” in transmission of information ever created by humans and for humans.
  4. 4. A very simple structure, but a structure that fully activates our brain chemistry, activating the basic components necessary for the understanding and retention of information.
  5. 5. Storytelling is a communication model, and one the best ways of understanding the world around us, because it allows us to understand the Other, feel the Other, and feel for the Other, and thus enrich the power of the social web through a simple process of communication.
  6. 6. Game Narrative Story Form Linear Non-linear Interactivity with the narrative game Multilinear Emergent
  7. 7. Literature - we read (ideas described symbolically of) what happened. Film - we see (ideas displayed of) what happened. Videogame - we do (actions that become ideas) happen.
  8. 8. Brenda Romero, Gaming for understanding, at TEDxPhoenix (2011) Learnign about Middle Passage at schools We Play, We Do, We Become
  9. 9. Mechanics on Middle Passage Families in Africa Boat to take people to the US New World , board game improvised by Brenda Romero
  10. 10. “empathy and sympathy start not in the higher regions of imagination, or the ability to consciously reconstruct how we would feel if we were in someone else’s situation. It began much simpler, with the synchronization of bodies: running when others run, laughing when others laugh, crying when others cry, or yawning when others yawn. Most of us have reached the incredibly advanced stage at which we yawn even at the mere mention of yawning - as you may be doing right now! - but this is only after lots of face-to-face experience.” (De Wall, 2009:51) the bottom line of storytelling
  11. 11. The Marriage, (2007), Rod Humble “The circles represent outside elements entering the marriage. The size of each square represents the amount of space that person is taking up within the marriage. The transparency of the squares represents how engaged that person is in the marriage. When one person fades out of the marriage and becomes emotionally distant then the marriage is over. The game mechanics are designed such that the game is fragile. It’s easy to break. This is deliberate as marriages are fragile and they feel fragile, I wanted to get this across.” playing with world representations
  12. 12. “On the surface, the point of Passage is to open as many treasure chests within the allotted time. But that's not what Jason Rohrer's award winning game is really about. What it is really about is love, the passing of time, saying goodbye to youth and freedom, grief - ultimately life itself.” Passage, (2007), Jason Rohrer playing with world representations
  13. 13. “As a mother, it's your job to keep your little tyke in the safety of the homestead until they have enough experience to survive the monster- infested woods. Don't expect any gratitude, though. The brat will continually try to give you the slip and escape into the wild. After a while, like many a parent, you may well be tempted to let it go find out the hard way what the world's really like.” A Mother in Festerwood, (2011) de Austin Breed playing with world representations
  14. 14. “Austin Breed has created a split-screen tale of a couple separated by, well, distance. You follow their separate, daily routines and at night get to pose one of two questions while they chat on the phone. But will their eyes start to wander? What would you do? Find out!” Distance (2010) de Austin Breed playing with world representations
  15. 15. "One Chance is a game about choices and dealing with them. Scientist John Pilgrim and his team have accidently created a pathogen that is killing all living cells on Earth. In the last 6 remaining in- game days on Earth, the player must make choices about how to spend his last moments. Will he spend time with his family, work on a cure or go nuts?" One Chance, (2010), AwkwardSilence playing with world representations
  16. 16. “Gray is a riot - quite literally. In this cerebral, experimental game, you play the part of a lone dissenter, trying desperately to win a seemingly never ending horde of rioters over to your cause. It seems like a helpless task but one by one you manage to woo the rioters until eventually you have the majority following you. But what does any self-respecting rebel do when they are a member of the majority, well in this game, they switch to the other side of course, and repeat the whole process again but from the opposite direction. Gray raises some interesting questions about the individual and the possibility of one person changing the course of history.” Gray, (2009), Greg Wohlwend playing with world representations
  17. 17. Connections, (2011), mindful xp playing with world representations
  18. 18. “Every day the same dream is a slightly existential riff on the theme of alienation and refusal of labor. The idea was to charge the cyclic nature of most video games with some kind of meaning (i.e. the "play again" is not a game over). Yes, there is an end state, you can "beat" the game.” Every Day the Same Dream, 2007, Paolo Pedercini playing with world representations