“You Are Dead. Continue?”: Conflicts and Complements in Game Rules and Fiction

Jason Tocci

Abstract


Videogames may be the only narrative medium in which the death of the protagonist is entirely routine. This is not an inherent bias of the form, but a potentially problematic convention left over from a time when it only made sense to look at games from a rules-based perspective. Now, as game designers become more ambitious with the sorts of stories they can tell, the “die-and-retry” approach presents an impediment to fictional coherence and enjoyment of story. This article proposes that players are more interested in enjoying games for their narrative elements than some developers and theorists recognize, and considers how a number of contemporary games have been designed to reduce conflicting elements and increase complementary elements between game rules and game fiction.

Keywords


rules, fiction, narrative, storytelling

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