When we think of stories, we could mention at least a dozen different categories within which we classify our stories, and multiple ways of construction; i.e. short stories, novels, graphic novels, journals, etc. And those were just written examples. There is also audio-visual storytelling, theatre, and many more. Not least, video games. Naturally, I shall be talking about video games.
One might say that “ludo-narrative dissonance” has become somewhat of a buzz-word of mine of late, and one would be very correct in saying so. The issues presented in video games when ludic (game mechanics) and narrative expressions do not compute has become a particular interest of mine. So much so that is has become a central part of my Master’s Thesis: “In order to create a cohesive experience of play and story, ludic and narrative elements must align in meaning and expression”.
One of the great challenges when designing video games is not merely to design a game that is interesting and fun for the first one or two hours of play, since this is helped along massively by the novelty of the game, the world, the story, etc. Novelty drives much of the excitement and curiosity. But what then when this extends into 10+ hours of play? What happens when the novelty wears off? That is where a game must truly prove its mettle.
Today’s posts is mainly one of reflection, based on some frustrations with the latest game I played, XCOM 2. I am not going to analyse the game in full, or review it for that matter of fact, but simply pick at a element that I found increasingly frustrating throughout the game: its way of presenting the narrative.