Vivek Chakraverty
  • Vivek Chakraverty

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First things first, all apologies for intruding into topics beyond my ken. But nevertheless, I have some interesting observations to make about narrative in video games, which you can consider as part of your larger views about video game narrative theory.

Ultimate End

The first such observation would be what is the outcome of all life in the real world. Pardon my morbidity, but the simple answer is death. Science seems to suggest that we are genetically programmed to die. And that is natural considering the resource load of an immortal population. Like a computing entity that hogs computing resources for the duration of its digital existence, so do human beings.

Therefore, it would be natural to see death or quitting the application as the ultimate end of any media as story performance.

Destiny or Dramatic Outcome

Deterministic End of Video Game Narrative Theory

The most common type of end that we see in design as narrative architecture is a deterministic end. This end was intended by the storyteller or whoever is there watching from above. In such a deterministic structure choice must be of two kinds:

Essential choices

These are the set of options that affect how and if we achieve the destiny or dramatic outcomes determined for us. Some of the vital decisions it appears must be influenced, whether to prod the story towards a particular direction or for the sake of world order in the real physical world.

Non-essential choices

They are many sedentary, benign choices we make in our day to day lives. These help move our life forward but don’t really affect our destiny to the dramatic outcome to any significant immediate effect. They are primarily governed by our instincts and mental predispositions rather than conscious, calculated thought.

As you can see from the game I have embedded below and even from your gaming experience in general, much of choice in video games is delusional. The narrative remains deterministic and directed with some choice add-ons thrown in to make you feel in control.

You can find the game here too:

Free End

This is the narrative outcome of the future. The theory of multiple universes blends in nicely with the freedom of such a narrative theory of games. In the structure of such a video game narrative theory, the player is free to make decisions that represent an illusion of choice but makes up for a wholly different narrative experience. According to me, game Ais working in real-time may one day design such narratives according to laid down edicts of game designers as the player plays.

Deterministic End Vs. Free End

The foundations of digital games are more than a mere hamlet on the holodeck. The element of choice that it introduces in narrative experience is revolutionary and will only be exploited more by emerging technologies and non-human agencies. It also is more realistic in that it is more probable. Just think what the chances of our civilization to be precisely the way they are. That’s all the human population multiplied by all essential human decisions or actions ever. In fact, modern science would suggest that there is a distinctive element of truth in the theory of parallel universes. This is the theory that free end compliments. The most significant research in parallel universes was done recently by the celebrated physicist Stephen Hawking.

Please note that I am not formally educated on many of the topics I discuss in today’s post. I may be wrong in some of my assumptions, terminology, and conclusions. It would be great for you to comment and correct me, however!

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