August 7, 2009 4:00 PM |
[Andrew Doull is an IT manager from New Zealand, now based in Sydney, who spends his free time developing Unangband, a rogue-like game, and blogging at Ascii Dreams. He writes an irregular column for GameSetWatch.]
Clint Hocking coined the term ludonarrative dissonance as the conflict between game play and narrative that arises, in his example Bioshock, when the elements of game play end up opposing instead of supporting the narrative and vice versa. He implies that by harmonizing ludic and narrative elements in a game will improve the game, and any gap between the two results in a less than satisfactory experience.
I argue here that there is an even more important gap in narrative design: one created by attempting to map inappropriate narrative techniques from other media onto games, created by a fundamental misunderstanding of how narrative works in games. I define here a simple narrative theory, which leads to an alternate meta theory about the structure of narrative in games, and attempt to show how analysis of some traditional narrative techniques fail because they do not take account of the meta-narrative requirements of game play.
To translate into a more concrete example: I believe many game designers are doing the equivalent of writing a montage in a novel and everyone, but especially game critics, wondering why there is no music.
Categories: Column: The Amateur