Interesting discussion in narratology

I read through this post recently called: “narrative is not a game mechanic” here: www.raphkoster.com/2012/01/20/narrative-is-not-a-game-mechanic/ It’s a fascinating discussion on what this guy seems to think is systemic in a game’s mechanics and in part it’s a bit of an argument of semantics and how he understands games and gamers. I disagree on this matter because I find that his view is too static and glosses over a few important issues such as the fact that videogames are not “traditional” games. An appropriate analogy would be the similarities between American constitutional law and British subject law (where videogames are represented here as America and traditional games are represented by Britain). The American constitution states inherent rights that the people are unwaveringly supposed to have access to and everything else can be brought before court feasibly. The British system on the contrary is based on restrictions which if crossed result in prosecution. Everything that is not stated is not considered by law to be right or wrong, just irrelevant. A videogame does not serve to restrict its players, it attempts to empower them and show them a world outside of their own. A more detailed and researched article about this can be found here: opus.kobv.de/ubp/volltexte/2008/2459/pdf/digarec01_18.pdf

The short and narrow of his argument was based on the idea that a videogame is essentially a glorified “traditional” game experience. The graphics, the sound the plot were all inconsequential and do not involve the player at all beyond a reward-like situation. This is where the game is played for a while and the player is rewarded with a cutscene of the plot moving forward or a newer scenario with different goals. I found the whole article to be badly misinterpreting the entire idea of what a computer game is and can be in the future. Games are virtual worlds where the impossible or the un-experienced is made real for us to explore. More successful and convincing games are those that do not limit themselves to one or two devices that are not symbiotic, like gameplay mechanics and story advancement. Ever since games like “Another World” we’ve seen attempts at seamlessly integrating plot and gameplay and in games like “Half-Life” and its sequel there are modern incarnations of this attempt. In the future with new technology and more experimentation hopefully we can start to realise this potential of creating virtual worlds more and more.

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