Narrative Design >||< Game Writing

Category: theory

Articles that cover narratological theories in the context of gaming

Connected Worlds: Building dynamic and coherent worlds through networks

As storytellers, we’ve been educating our audiences to be able to handle more complex narratives over time, from embedded narratives and examples of metalepsis to explorations of human nature. Another development is the shift in focus from single stories to story worlds.

Nowadays, fresh IPs for not just games but also movies and series are pretty much expected to take place in story worlds, showing multiple narratives from diverse characters – often morally grey and complex – to yield more entertainment and effect from the investment in developing that IP. I would argue that since the early 2000’s, but especially in the past decade during which games like Dungeons and Dragons have become more popular than ever, worldbuilding has become a serious pastime of professionals and amateurs alike. Worlds that belong to the Assassin’s Creed series and Warcraft continuously expand, so that players can consume them endlessly.

Top 10 Heroes of Warcraft | Gaming Instincts
What are the limits of the world of Warcraft?

This is the first article of a four-part series that shows how networks and sociology (and more specifically, theories on the sociology of art) can be applied as a worldbuilding method that yields meaningful and dynamic worlds. These articles support my GDC2021 talk ‘Connected Worlds: Building Dynamic Storyworlds Using Network Theory‘ by offering more details, substantiation and calculations behind the mechanisms.

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Comics, Mythology, and Games

Myths and legends of old are stories that were created at some point in time, whether they contain a kernel of truth or not. They are usually intended to convey some moral or life lesson to the audience. Be loyal to your king. Respect nature. Don’t cry wolf. Stuff like that.

They originate in times of oral traditions, meaning that the stories were passed down diachronically (from generation to generation) or synchronically (from storyteller to storyteller).

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Jason and the Argonauts are basically the Avengers (picture source)

I know I’m not the first one to state this, but comic book heroes are our modern-day mythology.

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Functions of Game Stories

This is an abstract of the talk I did at the Indie Gameleon festival on September 15, 2015; supplemented by material from a lecture I give to students.

When you’re building your game, of course you’re going to want to have a story included, right? You know how much people love game stories – not to mention all the memorable stories you personally enjoyed in your favourite game. So let’s add some story to your game!

Actually, let’s not.

plants-versus-zombies

Plants vs. Zombies has a story, but does anyone care?

You might not expect to hear this coming from a guy who writes stories for games, but I don’t want developers to blindly implement stories in their games. What I desire, is that we produce smarter stories, not more.

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Game-specific Story Structures

I sometimes get the feeling that we are on the verge of breaking into new kinds of narrative structures, specifically created for games. For a long time, we’ve borrowed literary, theatrical or cinematic structures, copying their story experiences and ways of progression. It’s not uncommon to find a game story script that looks exactly like a movie script. But more and more games seem to pursue narrative structures that create innovative story experiences that work best in games. As you can read elsewhere on my website, I’m a proponent of innovation in story creation, which is why I want to shed my views on this phenomenon.

order 1866

Is The Order 1866 really a game or a movie in disguise? Continue reading