Games, narrative and the design of interface
by Jim Bizzocchi; M.A. Ben Lin; Joshua Tanenbaum
International Journal of Arts and Technology (IJART), Vol. 4, No. 4, 2011

Abstract: There is a potential disconnection between the experience of narrative and the active decision-making necessary for successful gameplay. Gameplayers must oscillate between a hypermediated participation in game decisions, and the transparent pleasure in the narrative frame of the game (Bolter and Grusin, 1999; Manovich, 2001). This paper analyses one critical locus for facilitating player oscillation and bridging the gap between narrative pleasure and gameplay interaction. Narrative dynamics can be designed directly into the focus of active gameplay – the game interface. This paper identifies and explicates four separate design approaches for integrating narrative within the game’s interface: (1) a narrativised ‘look and feel’ of the interface; (2) behavioural mimicking and behavioural metaphors; (3) narrativised perspective and (4) ‘bridging’ and mixed-reality interfaces. These concepts are useful for describing, analysing and understanding how narrative experience can be instantiated within the game interface. Application of these concepts can help to reveal useful strategies for conjoining ludic play with narrative pleasure. Collectively, this approach is a step towards creating a common theoretical vocabulary for discussing the phenomenon of narrativised game interface.

Online publication date: Sun, 30-Oct-2011

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