Mechanics vs Narrative in Gaming

This past week has been a little bit of a mess for me in terms of productivity. I’ve been doing a lot of last minute work and planning for NaNoWriMo on everything from outlines to character creation. Needless to say, I haven’t had much time for much else.

So, this blog post is going to be on the shorter side, and I’m actually going to be sharing some videos here that I found interesting, both of them about narrative in gaming (particularly in video games).

This first video from Extra Credits brings up the issue of gamers retaining fewer narrative elements of a game than people who indulge in other mediums. The creators posit that much of this has to do with how people are taught to think about games rather than the potential of games to be a great storytelling medium or a deeper art form.

This video also connects to one from PBS’ Idea Channel.

In this video the host asks whether video games are more than the sum of their mechanics, or whether players are primarily driven by the action of interacting with the game rather than the story elements.

As both a gamer and a writer, I find this subject very interesting. I think that gaming certainly has the potential to be a great storytelling and narrative medium. Some games have already demonstrated great ability to deliver meaningful story lines. I mean, I don’t think people would’ve been so upset about the ending of Mass Effect 3 if they didn’t care about the story.

Hopefully you guys find these videos as interesting as I did, and feel free to drop any thoughts in the comments section. I’ll be making more of an effort to get back to more in depth posts in the near future, and (as I mentioned) I will also be writing up a storm during NaNo this month, so maybe I’ll include some updates on how that’s going.

In closing, have a safe and happy Halloween!

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One thought on “Mechanics vs Narrative in Gaming

  1. If the mechanics and narrative strike a good balance or better play into one another, it becomes fully memorable almost by heart. There is also the issue of fluff and a lack of diversity in the kinds of experiences you go through. In a action game you’ll rarely find yourself in anything that doesn’t enforce the action themes, no moments of strong emotion unless they benefit said theme. Multi faceted games succeed in being memorable as all their elements are generally impactful and distinct.

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