Assignment 4 – Readings

Game Design as Narrative Architecture –

I never considered before that video games face the same challenge that scifi has struggled with since its inception, the question of whether worldbuilding is a valid means of story and whether characters must be the focus of a story.  Does a game need ‘characters’ at all, and what qualifies as a character? All games must have at least one character in the sense of a being that has agency, because without it you would only have strict cause-and-effect with no free will.

I found the comparison to board games interesting, especially in how board games could be seen an exploration of space, with the board as the ‘world’. Viewing board games with more abstract boards such as Puerto Rico or Agricola as a kind of ‘world’ has potential that could be applied to video games – the UI, or the underlying equations behind the mechanics, might be brought into the ‘world’ in some way, even if it’s incongruous with a seamless setting.

Narrative Environments –

I was interested by how the author defined ‘narrative space’ and how that differed from non-narrative spaces. From the reading, it seemed that the difference was that narrative spaces must be constructed for the purpose of a ‘story’, and thus random environments, like the ones in the real world, could not be considered narrative spaces. I wonder if a game that featured random spaces could still form the basis for an interesting player experience? It seemed like in the Narrative Architecture reading that players could create their own story from any environment.

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