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Video: Designing narrative experiences which suspend the player's disbelief

December 21, 2017 | By Emma Kidwell

December 21, 2017 | By Emma Kidwell
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More: Console/PC, Design, Video

Games featuring character interactions with believable dialogue, discoverable story anecdotes impacted by the player, and responsive interaction systems are all narrative concepts working toward one common goal: suspending disbelief in players.

In this GDC 2014 session, Campo Santo's Sean Vanaman discusses the challenges of creating a narrative experience with the goal of suspending a player's disbelief through gameplay, citing the importance of treating the player as a partner while going through the design process. 

"I think if you're trying to make a piece of fiction about people," explains Vanaman. "The suspension of disbelief is really one of the most important things to consider in your design."

His talk highlights what designers should strive for if their focus lies on having the narrative matter; communicate with the player through design, and focus on the player experience. It's the designer's job to convince the player that their narrative is worth engaging with on an emotional level. 

Narrative designers interested in the techniques used to craft emotionally engaging experiences can now watch it completely free via the official GDC YouTube channel!

About the GDC Vault

In addition to this presentation, the GDC Vault and its accompanying YouTube channel offers numerous other free videos, audio recordings, and slides from many of the recent Game Developers Conference events, and the service offers even more members-only content for GDC Vault subscribers.

Those who purchased All Access passes to recent events like GDC or VRDC already have full access to GDC Vault, and interested parties can apply for the individual subscription via a GDC Vault subscription page. Group subscriptions are also available: game-related schools and development studios who sign up for GDC Vault Studio Subscriptions can receive access for their entire office or company by contacting staff via the GDC Vault group subscription page. Finally, current subscribers with access issues can contact GDC Vault technical support.

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