Narrativism, Ludonarrativity, and Finding a Use for Dead Media

By: Stephen Williams Ortega  

Role-playing games conjure one of two images to mind. A collection of teenagers, sitting around a table, doing calculus to see whether or not they've slain a dragon, or the modern genre of video game inspired from that tabletop tradition. In either case, the involved engagement in statistics and calculation-and more importantly, hard and fast win/loss states-can seem like a steep hurdle to the more narratively-inclined among us. However, the past few decades have seen the development of a trend of games that attempt to eschew the purely mechanical aspects of these games to take advantage of their potential as storytelling media. In 2003, Ron Edwards coined the term "narrativism" to describe this school of thought, to delineate a razor-focused brand of ludonarrativity: storytelling games. The more the body of the player has been actively involved in the ludic narrative, the more it begins to approach a sort of organized theater--and as in theater, the storytelling process is facilitated by the use of props, diegetic and non. From dice, to paper maps, to .mp3 files, game creators and players have used props to lend their stories physicality. This session explores the possibilities opened up when a player physically actualizes a ludic narrative, specifically through repurposed cassette tapes as a supposedly obsolete technology to lend flavor and tone, and ultimately augment the storytelling and role-playing experience for further narrative impact.

Games, Media, Obsolete, Narrativism, Ludonarrative, Workshop, Interactive, Alternative, Tools, Ludic
Media Technologies
Focused Discussion

Stephen Williams Ortega

United States
Connecticut, United States

Award-winning student author of fiction (and fictionalized fact) studying culture shock first-hand in the nutmeg state.