ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Stand up and take your place

By Bride Mallon, Brian Webb
Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications in Entertainment, [Vol. 3, No. 1]

DOI: 10.1145/1057270.1057285

This article reports results from a series of empirical studies exploring narrative dimensions of adventure and role-play in computer-game design. It identifies aspects of narrative employed in such games, considers the significance of narrative structures and devices in increasing user-engagement, and reflects on game-design implications.Because not all approaches identified in traditional narrative theory can be applied to the new, interactive media, a phenomenological, reader-response methodology was used in the studies to identify narrative considerations appropriate to game-players' experiences. In two model focus-group studies, evaluative responses to games played in a controlled environment were analyzed. From the factors identified as affecting engagement, those with narrative aspects were isolated and their significance assessed. Among the factors identified are characterization, identification, agency, motivation, plot, linearity, and authorial control. Also considered is the disruption of primal narrative features of narrative--causality, temporality, and linearity--within a hyper-structure, and a number of design techniques and strategies to resolve such tensions and promote user engagement are suggested.

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