The latest gripping story in the news this week has been the plane that was shot down from Malaysia Airlines. This attack killed almost 300 innocent people. I don’t always understand the problems from around the world, but it is so hard to swallow that a plane was shot down with so many innocent people on board. The issues between the Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russia have caused so many deaths across dozens of nations. Recently President Obama hard ordered a cease-fire after the crash. It’s crazy to think that people board plans everyday and that something this terrible could happen. It would be a great day to always feel safe, whether we were traveling on a plane, or car, or whatever we choose to do.
In this TED blog post, Kate Torgovnick May writes about ten different social purpose games and what they hope to achieve in their games. Gaming and the use of narrative can cause people to understand issues in an much more interactive manner as compared to the reading them on a page.
For instance, Budget Hero tasks the player with balancing the country’s economy. It teaches the player in a graphical and interactive manner on how changes can effect the economy and how even simple changes can cause a country to go bankrupt.
In it’s purest form, gaming narrative is interactive storytelling. With the advent of new technology, there are more and more examples of storytelling games being developed. One classical example of the interactive narrative is Façade, which utilizes an artificial intelligence-like game mechanic to tell the story.
In their analysis, the overview the process and issues with creating their interactive narrative, as well as the future possibilities of this type of game. This game developed in 2005, served as a predecessor to games like Gone Home and Dear Esther.
In Selmer Bringsjord’s Is It Possible to Build Dramatically Compelling Interactive Digital Entertainment, he analyzes the future of gaming narrative, stating that Artificial Intelligence will start creating the narratives of tomorrow. Gaming narratives, the epitome of storytelling, offers an interactive storyline. Can you imagine the possibilities of an MMORPG that constantly cycles and creates new quests with out developer input? That kind of technological advance would truly push Gaming Narrative ahead of the other traditional methods of storytelling.
In Brenda Romero’s TED talk, she describes the difficulty that traditional narratives have of conveying difficult topics. Romero’s daughter, in learning about the middle passage, did not seem to truly understand the perils of the journey.
In learning a subject in a history textbook, one can read the pages and absorb the knowledge, but the true terror of difficult times can fail to be conveyed through words. Romero seeing her daughter with a nonchalant attitude towards the middle passage, created a game that would properly convey the helplessness of the times. By using the game, her daughter was able to finally come to the realization of how terrible the journey was.
In utilizing the game and history, Romero is able to properly teach her daughter. This shows that games, equipped with the proper narrative, can teach lessons in a more effective manner as compared to historical books.
This article studies the potential for students to become interested sciences, by utilizing a video game as a medium. In their game, Quest Atlantis, students are tasked in studying the effects of logging and farming on the aquatic environment. As a primer, the students are first introduced in studying fishtanks, some with dead fish from dangerous pH levels and others with oxygen deprivation. After solving the issues in a smaller environment, they are introduced to a larger river/lake with decreasing fish populations. They are then instructed to suggest changes and can see the results of their changes.
The article argues that in order to draw students into the narrative they have to have three different things:
- Person with intent – why they’re there. A specific task for them to accomplish
- Content with legitimacy – Information that applies to real world examples.
- Context with consequentially – Showing the consequences of their actions.
A lot of successful games have all three of these examples. For instance, actions in the Fable series can dynamically affect the world around you.
In Richard Hall and Kirsty Baird’s Improving Computer Game Narrative Using Polti Ratios, the authors analyze a developing game and improve upon it based on Polti’s 36 dramatic situations. In developing their theory they are trying to prove the connection between a good narrative and a well received game.
While I agree with the notion of a good narrative makes a good game, there are plenty of narrative media that had the potential of producing something great but failed. For instance, the movie Looper and In Time, both had great concepts but failed to execute properly.