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Narrative Machines: A Ludological approach to Narrative Design

MACCALLUM-STEWART, Esther, Ryan, Malcolm and Dixon, Robin (2020) Narrative Machines: A Ludological approach to Narrative Design. In: Rerolling Boardgames: Essays on Themes, Systems, Experiences and Ideologies. MacFarland Press. ISBN 978-1-4766-7079-9

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Abstract or description

In this chapter, we discuss the design of games as narrative machines – mechanical systems that create narrative experiences. The role of narrative in games has been a hotly discussed topic in Game Studies, and indeed there are many ways that play and story can come together, from static scripts authored by the designer to improvised scenes freely role-played by players. We wish to address a middle-ground of particular interest to boardgame design: the emergent narratives that result from the interaction between the players and the rules.
We argue for the deployment of systemic narrative – stories that are the result of carefully designed systems and which employ emergent play as a viable design tool, based on a close analysis by Malcolm Ryan (the lead author). We outline an approach that Ryan calls narrative-driven design, in which the designer begins by analysing the desired narrative as if it were a game being played. We ask ourselves: “Who are the players in this scene? What actions are available to them? What are their incentives? What conflict are they experiencing?” When this is understood, we can begin to recreate the same situation through the mechanics of our game.

Item Type: Book Chapter, Section or Conference Proceeding
Faculty: School of Computing and Digital Technologies > Games and Visual Effects
Depositing User: Esther MACCALLUM-STEWART
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2021 14:40
Last Modified: 24 Feb 2023 14:00

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