In Gamasutra's newest feature, designer and writer Chuck Jordan (Sam & Max
) offers a nuanced understanding
of game narrative, where player and creator "both collaborate in the process of telling a story."
Writes Jordan, "The unique aspect of video games as a medium is, of course, their interactivity. They provide ongoing, immediate, systematic, rules-based, bidirectional communication between the creator and the audience. This is also known as 'gameplay.'"
However, he argues that those who say games cannot or should not be a linear storytelling medium are distracting designers from the true goal of engaging the player in communication.
"It's not a dramatic redefinition, but a subtle shift in philosophy. It's not the case that the developer's engaged in telling a story while the player's engaged in an activity; it's the case that they're both collaborating in the process of telling a story."
What then, can enhance your ability to reach the player? Jordan outlines several examples of ways in which designers have done just this.
"While designing puzzles for adventure games for Sam & Max
or Strong Bad
episodes, my goal was to reproduce for the player the experience of planning the game in the writers' room. We often talk about 'a-ha' moments when playing adventure games, but there are just as many that come up while designing them," he writes.
Inspiring the same state of mind in the player as in the designer, working in a way that is parallel to the experience of playing the game -- that is one way to connect, Jordan writes.
To read more, check out Jordan's feature, Closing the Loop: Fostering Communication In Single Player Games
, live now on Gamasutra.