The article below talks about games with stories that evolve out of a players actions within the game, instead of being preset from the outset of play. An interesting example is “Journey” a game which gives a player no explicit goals or standards of success but instead uses its design to suggest goals to its players; such always presenting a mountain with beam of light behind it. The idea is that the player’s goal will be to reach this mountain because of the way it is presented in the game, and the story will proceed naturally from the player’s decision to reach the mountain, and so likewise be different for every player.
Stories like these in games have the ability to alter the reward system role that narrative elements often fill. In games like “Journey” instead of the narrative as serving as a part of the reward system, it grows out of the players decisions naturally. This allows for narratives which aren’t diluted with the reward system element, and allows for a more diverse emotional reaction to the narrative at play in the game. The only problem for this method of providing narrative in games is that it may not count as a narrative form. In an earlier post I referenced how Jesper Juul objected to notions of video games as narrative, partially because a player directly influences the game as it happens, instead of experiencing a retelling of the story of the game. This is especially true in games like “Journey”, where there is no preset narrative a player discovers as they go along. Narratives in games thus seem forked: if they are used as a part of the reward system, they appear to lack depth, but if they are too dependent on a players decisions, then the story doesn’t seem to count as a narrative at all.