Finding a Way: Techniques to Avoid Schema Tension in Narrative Design

Christy Dena

Abstract


Game designers and game writers do not have the same understandings, processes, or approaches, and this impedes good practice. This is not due to the two modes being so different or incompatible however, as has been claimed now and in earlier narratology and ludology debates. Instead, this article argues that incompatibilities are due more to the schemas of creation: the mental models we are taught and create with, that thwart more integrated practices. We learn to create and think about games in one way, and narrative in another. This siloing is due to a predictable differentiation rhetoric that occurs at the emergence of a new medium: games are not stories, games are not films, VR is not film, X is understood by not being Y. This arbitrariness of difference facilitates a schism in the creator's mind, where elements, roles and industries become irreconcilable. Indeed, whole swathes of wisdom are put to the side in an effort to be recognised as different. When narrative is used in games, then, developers rely on external design grammars, where models from other artforms are imported and shoehorned. There have been attempts to reduce such siloing, but integration cannot happen merely through recognising common elements or traits within a game object. Instead, this article argues that a common understanding can be found through the common factor of the audience or player. To illustrate this point, two successful audience/player-centered approaches from filmmaking and education are outlined, along with a tweaking of the successful MDA framework, providing structures for creatives to avoid the problem of design schema tension and create better projects.


Full Text: PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.
 
 
Published by the Digital Games Research Association.