Narratology

Narratology

2023, in The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies (2nd edition, eds. Mark J.P. Wolf & Bernard Perron), Routledge, p.475-483.

This chapter provides an overview of the different types of study that can be conducted when considering the narrative aspects of video game play. It contextualizes this research among the larger movements of narratology, particularly concerning the structuralist roots of the discipline and the parallels between gameplay and narrative structures. A brief overview of the key points of the ludology/narratology debate is made, followed by an introduction to the three domains of narrative in video game studies: story content or extrinsic narrativity, and the different degrees of pairing between game and story that make up a game’s narrative programme (a-narrative, hypo-narrative, meso-narrative or hyper-narrative, in increasing order of narration); story structures that integrate narrativity into gameplay, such as pre-scripted branching narratives, vectors with side branches, or “sandbox” structures and emergent narratives; and narration as the discursive mode that games use to relay the game-state, an intrinsic form of narrativity that permeates the medium itself.

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