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GCG: 'Master's Thesis: Narration in the Video Game'

In this feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, Dominic Arsenault, Master of Arts in Film Studies, discusses what uses narrativity might ha
In this feature for Gamasutra sister educational site Game Career Guide, Dominic Arsenault, Master of Arts in Film Studies, discusses what uses narrativity might have in the video game medium, citing examples from Super Mario Bros, Metroid Prime, Final Fantasy IV, Ninja Gaiden, and Diablo. From the thesis' abstract: “This thesis puts together the foundations of a narratological conception of video games. The author attempts to determine whether narrativity is intrinsic to the video game medium, in what ways it appears, and what its use is in gaming terms. To this end, he presents and amends the definitions of many problematic concepts, such as interactivity, story, narration, and narrative. Inspired by the works of film studies, the author adapts the theories of narratology to take into account the interactive nature of video games, first on a general theoretical level, and then in precise case studies. The resulting narratological model proposes that every game features both an external embedded narrative and an intrinsic videogame narrative. Chapter one discusses and defines the concepts of video games and interactivity. Chapter two discusses the theoretical foundations of the story and whether the content of a video game can be seen as a story. Chapter three examines gameplay and attempts to determine whether the content is communicated to the player by way of narration or other means. Chapter four reworks the concept of narrative into something more specific to video games, and proposes a new model. A number of game examples are analyzed in this light. The first three chapters are more theoretical and oriented toward concepts and ideas. Game developers looking for more practical, down-to-earth observations may skip directly to chapter four. Games studied include Super Mario Bros., Metroid Prime, Final Fantasy IV, Ninja Gaiden, Diablo, and the tabletop role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.” You can now view the full 116 page thesis from Arsenault, with more on 'the video game narrative' (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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