Pages: [1]

Story + Game = ?

Story + Game = ?
« on: April 09, 2010, 09:42:39 am »

I've been clarifying my own thoughts on this matter as of late, and it seemed like the appropriate time to bring this matter up for discussion.

The long of it can be read here, but the short of it is this: Let's define "story" as the fictional character's struggle to achieve their goals, which creates drama, and "game" as the real-life player's struggle to achieve their goals, which creates fun. When the parallels between those two sets of struggles and goals are strong enough, they begin to merge in the player's mind. This chemistry between the two ingredients generates something I might well have to invent a buzzword for- a gestalt between drama and fun that's more than the sum of its parts. Tell you what- I'll call it 'frama' for the purpose of this discussion.

For example, a game where I win by shooting arrows accurately enough to kill several wolves in quick succession is fun. A story where the protagonist must try to kill several wolves with arrows before they can reach his loved one is dramatic. And if I'm immersed in both my role and the challenge- so that the thought going through my mind isn't "I must shoot these wolves to beat this level," but "I must shoot these wolves to save this person"- then my experience is framatic. It resonates with us because we're living the story, rather than just following along with it.

Frama can only occur when an experience is both a story and a game. But then, the definition of "game" I've used here is alot broader than the one this community/initiative favors. So here's my first and foremost question: Can my concept of frama be pursued by something that falls within your concepts of a notgame? If so, I'd love to explore and discuss the potential that exists there. If not, I can keep my thoughts on this topic out of the community's discussion. What say you?

(My second question is whether anyone has a better idea for a name/phrase than "frama". Please say yes.)
Logged

Your daily does of devil's advocacy: "We're largely past the idea that games are solely for children, but many people are consciously trying to give their games more intellectual depth. Works of true brilliance are rarely motivated by insecurity."
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 11:53:47 am »

Why does the protagonist's goals needs to be so separate from the player's?
In your "shooting wolves" examples, does the player and protagonist not strive to achieve the same goal? Is it not better to let the player be part of the drama and not just an outside observer trying to achieve her own goals?

It seems to me that by separating story and game from the start, you are sort of creating the problem you are trying to solve? Perhaps I misunderstood something?



Logged
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2010, 07:03:40 am »

Why does the protagonist's goals needs to be so separate from the player's?
In your "shooting wolves" examples, does the player and protagonist not strive to achieve the same goal? Is it not better to let the player be part of the drama and not just an outside observer trying to achieve her own goals?

It seems to me that by separating story and game from the start, you are sort of creating the problem you are trying to solve? Perhaps I misunderstood something?
I'm just talking about the way things are- players are a finicky bunch, it's not easy to inspire a specific reaction. My "shoot arrows to protect loved one" scenario only works if I've managed to actually make the player care about the character who's in danger.

In other words, I don't see this as a problem to be solved but a skill to be developed. It takes one kind of craftsmanship to make a compelling story, and another to make an engaging game. It takes a third kind to align those two elements up against the border between fiction and metagame, so that they form two halves of a whole.
Logged

Your daily does of devil's advocacy: "We're largely past the idea that games are solely for children, but many people are consciously trying to give their games more intellectual depth. Works of true brilliance are rarely motivated by insecurity."
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2010, 07:22:18 am »

Hah! Rereading some of the older threads, I come upon Michael talking about this exact same thing. Whoops.
Quote
Indeed, that's what I was thinking too. That it was just good storytelling. Because books can achieve the same effect. You enjoy "following" a character probably more when their behaviour "makes sense".

Yet in the game, it really felt like I had done something. It would not have felt the same at all if I hadn't pressed that button to make it happen. I was feeling good about myself. I didn't just empathise with the character or approve of his actions. It was me because I pressed the button.
And that's what frama is.
Logged

Your daily does of devil's advocacy: "We're largely past the idea that games are solely for children, but many people are consciously trying to give their games more intellectual depth. Works of true brilliance are rarely motivated by insecurity."
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2010, 02:51:48 pm »

Quote
It takes one kind of craftsmanship to make a compelling story, and another to make an engaging game. It takes a third kind to align those two elements up against the border between fiction and metagame, so that they form two halves of a whole.

I think there is an inherit conflict between the game part and the story, and that in order to make the player become part of the story, one has to lessen the gaminess. And this is pretty much one of the main stuff of notgames.

I get at what you mean, that (as Michael also said), different people will have different thoughts on what kind of things feel right to do in a certain situations. Again, with the shooting-wolf example, the player might not think the loved one is worth saving and hence does not feel the same way the protagonist does and fail to sympathize and feel immersed. However, I would like to say that this is a problem between interaction and story, not between game and story. I actually feel that the game part is a detracting force that pulls away from the story and even immersion to some degree. So if you want to increase the "frama", I think that you need to think of it less as a game and instead as creating interaction that the player feels part of.

Now the problem of making player feel part of the interaction is very interesting, but as I said above, I would argue that it is a problem to try and fit in a game into it as well. To get the best possible story and player immersion, I think one has to disregard game elements and only focus on creating an experience. Of course game elements can still be very useful, but they should come from the wish to tell story and not be a base to build from.

Is your goal to tell the best possible story, or to blend story and game in the best possible way? Because I think the two are quite different problems.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2010, 02:53:27 pm by Thomas »
Logged
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 07:11:18 am »

I think there is an inherit conflict between the game part and the story, and that in order to make the player become part of the story, one has to lessen the gaminess.
I vehemently disagree- primarily with the conclusion you've drawn. The situation I see is that there's an inherent potential for conflict between game and story, as well as an inherent potential for synergy. Avoiding the former and creating the latter is a matter of execution- designing the experience so that neither aspect "pulls you out" of the other. It takes work, to be sure, but I'm convinced that it can be worthwhile- look at "Another World".

Is your goal to tell the best possible story, or to blend story and game in the best possible way? Because I think the two are quite different problems.
I want to have my cake and eat it too, mostly. Tongue

To give a real answer: I want the experiences I design to be meaningful, enriching, to have as much of an impact on the target as I can give them- where "impact" is the depth of someone's response multiplied by the strength of their response. And from where I stand it's looking like experiences which include both game and narrative elements (in a cohesive fashion) could prove a highly effective method towards that end.
Logged

Your daily does of devil's advocacy: "We're largely past the idea that games are solely for children, but many people are consciously trying to give their games more intellectual depth. Works of true brilliance are rarely motivated by insecurity."
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2010, 08:28:51 am »

I am glad you disagree! Discussions are more interesting that way! Smiley

First, of all I might have come of a bit too negative, there is bound to be certain stories that are very well matched with certain kind of game elements. Now with game, I am using it here to mean mechanics with goals to be beaten, like solving a puzzle or overcoming some platforming part. If the story is about solving these kinds of events, that story and game will blend very well. However:

1) Not all stories have this property and will need to be compromised in order to fit in the game.

2) In games like Another World where the story (escape alien world) is heavily connected to the game parts, is the story part really the best it can be? This of course impossible to say for a game like AW and is highly subjective, but it is very evident when making a game. I always feel that I have to make compromises between the two, in order to create the best possible symbiosis.

What is it about the game parts that make them so essential to you? Note that I would not consider actions that have consequences and the like "game", but rather just interaction. Perhaps you simple feel game-parts include this too?

I am aware this discussion is somewhat muddled by how we define words, but I am very interested what it is with the game parts that is so attractive?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2010, 08:30:26 am by Thomas »
Logged
Re: Story + Game = ?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2010, 06:06:32 am »

I think a more elegant way to state the formula would be:

Narrative conflict + interactive conflict = ?

Obviously not elegant in terms of word simplicity, but I think this mindset would offer you some more flexibility in terms of designing an experience that would provide the most synergy.  It's more elegant in terms of providing a solution to the formula.
Pages: [1]
Jump to: