I’m ThatGenericNerd, I’m looking at storytelling in video games and how it works, intro intro intro, lets analyse my model!
When I first pitched my analysis of storytelling, I had a threefold model investigating storytelling techniques in video games through traditional narrative elements, gameplay and world design.
As I began playing these games and researching through countless video game analysis videos, I decided my model was missing vital pieces.
This video on the nemesis system used in Shadow of Mordor made me realise the player is also a vital part of storytelling in this medium and would be necessary to include in an analysis on their stories.
I also realised that world design as a category could easily be separated into narrative elements of setting and mise-en-scène, and gameplay with the interactive elements of the world. So I eliminated world design as an option and added the player to the model.
This came alongside an addition to the games I’m analysing in Shadow of Mordor.
But I hear what you’re asking, “Mr. Nerd, what are the fancy technical names behind these three parts of your model?” Well, I’m delighted to tell you there’s a video here just for you.
Now about whether these techniques have been used before, I’m delighted to tell you, of course they have.
What I am referring to as ‘traditional narrative elements’ is simply the narrative elements used to convey narratives in other mediums like novels and movies (Quick breakdown, here). These have been used to analyse texts in English classes forever, to the dismay of students, and are used in every story analysis of a game.
Gameplay however, is unique to games as a medium… obviously… but not just video games. Board games and sportsball can also be anaylsed through gameplay. Plenty of people have used it to analyse games, both focusing on story and not.
Finally the player is an example of paratext (see video), and paratext is a very nebulous term that applies to every medium. Analysis of paratext is as prevelant as judging books by their covers. It’s not as popular of an analytical element in video games, but still happens.
Basically my models awesome so it should be able to cut down and find how video games tell their stories… hopefully.