Narrative Design | Game Writing

Category: Geen categorie (Page 2 of 2)

Ek skríf Fornyrðislag

Roughly translated: I’m writing poetry in Old Norse.

At least I won’t take my work home with me that easily (image from Wikipedia)

It’s something I personally love, I should add. I’m writing the background story for the conflict in a Viking combat game, and I’m currently working on the lyrics for a song. Continue reading

Emergent narratives in games

Games have imitated traditional media in many ways. Some genres borrow the visuals and directing qualities from movies, others use story structures and character development from literature, and some others apply art styles from all kinds of historical art movements.


Up to extremely historical (image from Alientrap’s Apotheon)

On the other hand, games distance themselves from traditional media. An example is player agency, or how you can influence the flow or outcome of a narration. But there is one narrative form that games excel at: the emergent narrative.

In an emergent narrative, the story is not designed by developers. It is constructed by the player, through his (inter)actions and explorations, while often influenced by any number of (game-specific) random factors that each game features. As the name suggests, the narrative will emerge as the player continues to play. Sounds abstract, doesn’t it? Yet, I’m almost certain that most of you have benefited from this form of storytelling.

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Why should we interpret a game?

**SPOILERS!** This article is a discussion of plot elements in games, meaning that it contains many minor **SPOILERS!**

The title of this article is a question, with good reason. It may be a question some of you ask when confronted with someone who claims to know what a game is really about. Or maybe you ask the question when discussing what the value is of adding meaning to a game, or interpreting it. In any case, the word ‘game’ can easily be replaced by ‘film’, ‘book’ or ‘painting’. Why is adding meaning to a work of art needed? Can’t we all just keep our own interpretations to ourselves?

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Far Cry 3 is insane!

**SPOILERS!** This article is a discussion of plot elements in games, meaning that it contains many **SPOILERS!**

In Far Cry 3, you play as Jason Brody, who is lured to an “island where you can do anything”, only to be immediately captured by the violent Vaas and his gang of pirates. Jason is able to escape with his brother, even though the latter is killed before they are in the clear. Jason then decides to fight Vaas and his gang in order to free his friends and his younger brother. His is aided by a number of colourful characters, one of which is the exotic Citra, who ends up competing for Jason’s love and devotion with his girlfriend Liza.

As you probably know, this is still typical ‘First-person Shooter’ (FPS) stuff. Nothing too crazy happening at this point! And at first sight, Far Cry 3 plays around with the usual tropes of the FPS genre: you start out as a rookie, but gain both power and abilities as you play, which eventually allows you to defeat the big bad boss and exact your revenge. A cynic might even call this story a cliché: there are women who desperately need your help, it turns out that there is an even bigger bad guy operating behind the scenes and the protagonist mows down entire armies as if it’s just another day at the office.

But the vigilant player will have noticed that one theme plays a central part in Far Cry 3: madness.

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Assassin’s Creed’s Storytelling Acrobatics

**SPOILERS!** This article is a discussion of plot elements in games, meaning that it contains many **SPOILERS!**

The Assassin’s Creed series is known for many things: its historical accuracy, the parkour movement system and yes, even its story. Yet few players concern themselves with the narratological finesses that Ubisoft filled their story with. I’m not just talking about the fact that all characters die at the same location and date that history dictates. No, I’m talking about some narratological techniques that cause the story structure itself to become all the more interesting.

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