Reading Response 6

1. The chapter in ROP examines a critical debate in game design – the role, function and definition of “narrative” in games.
A) Describe, from your own game playing experience, an example of what would make up the embedded narrative and the emergent narrative in a particular game.

A game that features both an embedded narrative and an emergent narrative would be Fallout: New Vegas. I recently beat the game twice and it combines both of these types of narrative very well to make for a compelling story. The embedded narrative would be the overall setting of the story and the main plot. To be exact, you are a courier in a post nuclear war United States who is on a mission to find out who attempted to kill him or her. The emergent narrative would be constituted by the myriad of ways that your path can take to get to your killer. The game is very open ended and quite non-linear, although there is still the over-arching plot. Besides several key things that must happen, like a great battle at the end, there are so many other things that aren’t necessarily part of the main narrative but are there anyways for the player to do.

2. A) What do you think narrative descriptors contribute to the enhancement of the game play experience? B) What do think happens when there are no narrative descriptors – describe an example of a game like this? C) How does this concept relate to constitutive and operational rules?

A) Narrative descriptors can get the player in a certain mood or mindset, or possibly give the player a good idea of what type of narrative play will occur. A game may not be so enjoyable if you just get thrown in there with no idea of what you are supposed to be doing or what the back story is. If the game’s elements that would potentially make up a narrative fail to do so, then the player may not want to play the game or be very turned off by it. I think a game like Warcraft 3 has such great narrative descriptors that you just want to play the game immediately and you feel entirely immersed in the fantasy role-playing setting without much effort by the game designers.

B) I think that some games do not need narrative descriptors; all of the narrative is achieved through the actual gameplay. Take tic-tac-toe, for example. The game is very simple and I wouldn’t say that it has a typical story to it, although there is narrative. A game as simple as this would not need any narrative descriptors.

C) The concept of narrative descriptors is related to constitutive and operational rules in that narrative descriptors are like constitutive and operational rules. Narrative descriptors can be very formal and explicit or more subtle, just like how rules can be very explicit and formal(operational) and subtle but not implicit(constitutive).

3. A) Following the arguments in ROP – describe how cutscenes may contribute to and/or detract from a meaningful and pleasurable play experience (see the sidebar on pg 411 for the “cons”). B) Explain your personal take on the value of cutscenes?

A) Cutscenes definitely contribute to a meaningful and pleasurable play experience depending on the game and the player. Hardcore players may not care for them and might want to jump right into the gameplay; most other players will actually sit through the cutscene in order to possibly learn something useful or have a better sense of the narrative. Not having an established narrative can detract from a pleasurable play experience depending on the game.

B) I personally think that cutscenes are very valuable, primarily for the narrative that they help establish. Games like Warcraft 3 or Final Fantasy 7 had such great and well-crafted cutscenes that I still remember them after all these years. The cutscenes helped make the game memorable and replayable. Small cutscenes that are more for pointing out something to help the player are very useful and needed. In God of War 3, there are small cutscenes that generally help you with solving the various puzzles; without such cutscenes, there would need to be another form of in-game help because some of the game’s puzzles were quite confusing or complex. I think that cutscenes offer much utility to a game and are very necessary.


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