Research #7: Cut Scenes and Narrative

Cut scenes are the traditional vehicle for narrative in video games, and also the single part of the game where a player’s character can appear on screen yet where the player has no influence over the character’s actions. A player exhibits influence over the character through an action packed level, which does nothing to enhance the story, and upon completion is rewarded which a cut scene where the player has no influence over the events of the game and which pushes the narrative forward.

Cut scenes thus provide an easy way for game designers to keep players from having influence over kernel events, or at least limiting this influence, which thus makes the game a narrative form according to Aarseth’s definition. Cut scenes also work as a part of the reward system of the game. Success in the game rewards the player with a cut scene that moves the narrative forward, while the failure stalls the narrative where it is. But new ways to make the narrative progress without using cut scenes are being developed in gaming. Below is an article about “Infamous Second Son” a video game which forces players to make decisions which will push the plot where the designers want it to go, instead of using cut scenes. This feature of the game allows for players to feel as though the progression of the narrative is their own decision, and thus that the players are pushing the narrative forward with strategic decisions, rather than with victories. That is, the experience of the narrative for the player is no longer a reward for success, but is rather a natural part of making strategic decisions within the game, which allows the player to survive.


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