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Title: Game narrative : an alternate genealogy
Other Titles: Digital interfaces in situations of mobility : cognitive, artistic, and game devices
Authors: Calleja, Gordon
Keywords: Genealogy
Digital storytelling
Virtual reality -- Social aspects
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
Citation: Calleja, G. (2017). Game narrative : an alternate genealogy. In B. Guelton (Ed.), Digital interfaces in situations of mobility: cognitive, artistic, and game devices. London: Common Ground Research Networks.
Abstract: One of the most rewarding, and challenging aspects of analysing and understanding digital games is the incredible variety of artefacts this class of media objects covers. Elsewhere I have argued that there is, in fact, no stable category of objects that we call games, but, following Wittgenstein (1953), a sprawling family of members which share some commonalities, without a single universal element that is common to all and can thus be said to essentially define them. This also means that games, unlike most media, have a range of varied genealogies they have developed from. When we turn our attention to an inquiry of narrative within games, the tendency within academia and industry has been to approach the subject from the perspective of literature and film, assuming that the narrative aspect of games is a continuation of the narrative development found in these two media. Indeed, a common starting point for the discussion on game narratives has been classical narratology. This is an important first step and an obvious place to start our inquiry of game narratives. One of the better papers that takes this approach is Aarseth’s A Narrative Theory of Games (2012). This paper will argue that exploring this single genealogy of the confluence of story and games is missing another genealogy which is crucial to understanding the story aspects of digital games: play and imagination. I will argue that the doll-house is as important a pre-cursor to game narratives as the literary work or the movie. Unfortunately, the function of the doll-house in narrative generation has not received the depth of theoretical treatment that the printed book or filmic medium have, but this does not make it any less important to our understanding of game narrative.
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