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 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.
Although not necessarily a digital game, Click! Urban Adventure Game is a mixed reality RPG game, designed to inspire girls and spark interest in science and technology. In the Pittsburg based event, the teams of girls would attempt to solve a social issue that affected them in the real world, in this case, water pollution.
There seems to be a definite correlation between the girls in the study and their increased interested in sciences and technologies. This will serve well in proving that my idea that gaming narratives is superior to traditional narratives.
When it boils down to it, what is the difference between a game and a traditional narrative? In Markku Eskelinen’s The Gaming Situation, he goes through what specific differences there are between traditional linear narratives and gaming. He states that linear narratives, everything party of the storyline whereas, in a game, side quests can often be ignored. He even discusses the relation between the screen and characters, citing a possible game based on real world stock trade movements.
I’m interested to see these integrated reality games come to life. It would allow for an unparalleled immersion in games.