Monday, June 27, 2005

Ludology vs Narratology

Well apparently this is a war lol. For newcomers to the discussion, Ludology was originally a name (psuedonym practically) for game studies which is a new field taken up by some universities to try to create a more formalised view/structure for studying games. The usefulness, rigor and legitimacy of such a field or whether there is a need for one has yet to be proven and what such study may yield.

When I first heard of ludology, I was intrigued and briefly enthralled. There was already a lot of talk of story/narrative and I think at an unconscious level this is because of a distinct lack of story/world/meaning in today's games compared to those of yesteryear. I know I certainly felt an unconscious reach towards it at the earliest stages of coming up wtih this site. I originally intended this site not as a forum but as a hall of fame of past games and to also honor game industry greats that I admired and looked up to growing up but have since moved on i.e. Al Lowe

As the idea eventually morphed into something that attempted to tackle the problem instead of just waxing about the past, I realised that an attempt at a serious game study forum/site would have to take into account games in all its forms not just ones with a strong narrative backbone and story.

Ultimately where I stand on the debate is when the language of ludology becomes more about academic references and english academia then it has effectively splintered which is what I believe the solution to this war is. It is one of the reasons why I stopped reading Grand Text Auto too.

The essence of gaming is about play, being in the story, performing actions. This may or may not have anything to do with the story. Ultimately gaming is an interactive medium and that is where it is rooted. Interactive fiction or an interactive narrative may be a story where you can make decisions but ultimately you are still relying on a storyteller to tell it for you. Narratology really should be a new branch of literature studies or english I am not quite sure there.

Even though my preference leans towards games with a story most definitely, for example adventure games or the C&C and War3 games captured my imagination because of the story, games are still interactive, functional and formal systems. You can still have a game without a story, as in the game as a toy approach of Nintendo, or world as dollhouse/sandbox ala Will Wright. Narrative is only one aspect of a game albeit a very important one. I may be less involved with games that lack a story or a purpose for me to invest in but that doesn't make them any less of a game for somebody who just wants to *play* and ultimately that's what games are for. To be played.

As a PS to this, one of my guiltiest pleasures are FMV games, I have loads of them and I liked quite a few of them. Some I did not appreciate the lack of gameplay but what they did bring was a better sense of storytelling and even closure to an experience. Maybe an FMV game article is in the wings



Post a Comment

<< Home