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SO, ON THE TOPIC OF THIS WAR THING

02 July 2005

Okay, so apparantly there?s this war going on between two sides of the hypothetical gaming coin: Ludology vs. Narratology. And I also discovered it has been going on for quite some time now, and it flares up every time there?s a conference and people start to get involved again.

In short; the lugologists? side says that games should revolve around the gaming aspect, the gameplay. The narratologists? camp says however that games are just another storytelling medium just like movies and books. And now they?re pulling out each other?s hairs because they don?t see that the one doesn?t rule out the other and it?s good that everyone puts a different emphasis on their games.

Now I?ve got two arguments why this battle is silly:
1. The one doesn?t rule out the other.
2. It?s good that everyone puts a different emphasis on their games.
It?s so simple, isn?t it? I?m all for some friendly jostling of course, but I?m hearing these crazy rumours that one side wants the other DEAD, and then the other started saying mean things about people?s mothers, and then things got nasty.

Me, I?m one of those stinky narratologists or whatever that means. Someone said I was a nazi, which I?m sure was meant in the spirit of the game. But yeah, I look at games as a medium through which I want to tell stories. I also employ different media, because some stories work better as a book or an animation. I know that games are more than just narratives, but this is just the emphasis I will put on them. Doesn?t mean I wouldn?t think about the gameplay. In fact, the gameplay should have a substantial role in telling the story. I just don?t give a damn about highscores. I care about emotional fulfillment through a narrative.

Thinking about it, I know that telling a story THROUGH a game (which is to say, not alongside a game in the cutscenes or the manual) is probably a very difficult thing. How do you do that, telling a story within a game, where every element progresses your tale, deepens your characters? As your avatar stumbles through a level, what does that mean for him in the narrative? It?s so elusive. It?s worth looking into, because I want to tell stories through games. Because I?m a narratologist. But secretly, I?m just a guy who wants to make games the way I?d like them. War be damned.

Roderick.