quarta-feira, 16 de janeiro de 2013

Narratology and Games

Narratology is an important concept inside the gaming universe. As Frasca says, there are several definitions of narratology, but basically it is the discipline that studies stories and storytelling.

Through the years, we saw video games evolving on content and narrative. From PONG (1972) to modern games, it's possible to see an enormous leap and this is also a sign of how the games have grown as cultural products.

The narrative in the first video games was very basic. In SPACE INVADERS (1978) you are a well skilled pilot trying to save the Earth from an alien invasion, but the game doesn't have any extra information and the player must imagine details of the action on his/her mind. I would like to make a disclaimer: I believe this is a very positive point in old video games - encouraging creativity in players.

In SUPER MARIO BROS (1985) it's possible to see a more structured narrative. Mario has a path to walk among different castles trying to save Princess Peach from the evil Bowser. Each stage has a connection with each other, and the game has an end with a short explanation to the player.

We saw a lot of evolution on gaming narrative through the years (Monkey Island, And Then There Were None, The Dig, etc.) , and in the last generation of video games we saw titles like HEAVY RAIN (2009) and THE WALKING DEAD (2012), where the narrative takes precedence over all other aspects.

In both games we can see a mix between movie and game. You choose actions and many dialogue lines to reach one of the multiple endings. In these cases the narrative takes the player down through an immersive experience of text and interaction.

In this category of games, combat and extreme action don't matter too much. The core is to find better answers for the dialogues between the characters and solve puzzles of different natures.

Below, you can see the gameplay idea of WALKING DEAD. You'll notice that the narrative is constructed to offer a kind of cinematic experience to the player.

It's important to highlight one fact: the gaming industry is evolving and this allows games with great variations. Maybe it's possible to say that there isn't a kind of game that is better or worse, and all games deserve to be studied to create a better gaming industry.

Now on to your opinion!

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