Research Post #3: Narrative and Gaming

The article below gives a nice account of all the ways our experience of video games differs from our experience of narratives. The strongest claim comes from Juul’s observation that there is a temporal difference between video games and narratives . There is a double temporal sequence to a narrative: there is the amount of time covered in the narrative and the amount of time it takes to tell the story, which are rarely identical. That is, there are the events which are being reported in the narrative and there is the narrative itself which is in some sense describing prior events. But with regard to video games, since a player is interacting with the environment continuously, and thus unfolding the story as he or she plays, the dual temporal sequences can’t be said to be at play in the narrative. When one plays a video game, they are impacting events in the present moment, not experiencing past events via a narrative. For this reason Juul believes that interactive platforms cannot count as narratives.

I think Juul is missing something from his analysis of the temporal element of video games. For the narrative of a video game, at least one with a developed story like “Mario” is set prior to the player influencing the environment. (Spoiler Alert: Mario saves Peach) The player knows, or assumes, that success in the game will be rewarded with advancing the narrative forward, because he assumes that the narrative has been set prior to the game play. Thus, the narrative of a game does seem to be set prior to the play, creating a form of the dual narrative sequence unique to narrative forms.


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