Mindmap: Narrative Architecture

Spatial Stories and Environmental Storytelling

One of the quintessential games within the tradition of spatial stories is Super Mario Bros. I spent countless hours of my childhood advancing through the varies levels and stages of the Super Mario Bros franchise — this structure of game relies on the episodic nature of the levels and build tension from the player progressing through all sorts of terrain in order to rescue his princess.

Evocative Spaces

I recall playing a good amount of Lego Star Wars as a child — this type of game resembles the evocative spaces form of narrative in which the context of the gameplay plays on the familiarity the player has with the greater context of the franchise it evokes. My joy of milling around the Mos Eisley Cantina and turning random creatures into splattered blocks of Lego was augmented by an understanding of who these creatures were and why beating on them in a plastic block form was so comical.

Embedded Narratives

This form of narrative reminds of the single-player campaigns in Call of Duty games — many of these campaigns take advantage of non-linear story telling to develop a narrative and surprise the player with timely revelations of revenge and betrayal. The player is then forced to reevaluate their perception of certain characters in retrospect.

Emergent Narratives

One such game that exemplifies emergent narratives is Rollercoaster Tycoon. This game is defined by loose structure with the spatial potential for symbolic and emotional impact. Despite being loosely structured, the patrons of the amusement park demonstrate their own individual capacity for emotion — I recall becoming most invested in the game when patrons would vomit while navigating the amusement park (to which I quickly threw such patrons into an immense expanse of water to fend for themselves).

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