Week 6: Emergent Narrative and The Sims

“In an emergent narrative, the story is not designed by developers. It is constructed by the player, through his (inter)actions and explorations, while often influenced by any number of (game-specific) random factors that each game features”(Grave, 2018).
Henry Jenkins writings describe the emergent narrative as an example of Sims.
According to Wright(2000), he suggests that Sims should be understood as a kind of writing environment in which players can define their goals and write their own stories. In Sims, the players make characters with skins that they decide to make a story. What essential in the game is that by giving players a considerable amount of freedom, they create a story through personal interaction with the game system.
However, “The characters have a will of their own, not always submitting easily to the player’s control, as when a depressed protagonist refuses to seek employment, preferring to spend hour upon hour soaking in their bath or moping on the front porch”(Jenkins, n.d). Although there are parts in the game that the character is given desires, impulsions, and desires that the player cannot control, it is meaningful in that the player directly connects to himself and interacts with the game system while rehearsing their relationships with friends, family, or colleagues like in the real world.

Like this, according to Jones (2020), the emergent narrative has the advantage of providing a high level of interaction for players and creating task-based and exploratory immersion. But the plot is often meaningless outside the individual player experience, and the focus is generally not on the character or the plot, so it is difficult to create empathy for the player.

Also, emergent narratives can be used within the broad context of spatial storytelling. Minecraft, for example, is a game in which characters fall into random villages filled with creatures, monsters and some towns and survive there. The player makes his own story in the space of the game, exploring where he wants to go and building structures. “The Spatial design provides participants the freedom to forge their own routes, to glimpse parts of the story that perhaps no-one else notices, to weave together the nonlinear collection of narrative fragments that is unique to each individual’s experience and create one’s own interpretation of how they’re all connected”(Biswas, 2016). So,” in the case of emergent narratives, game spaces are designed to be rich with narrative potential, enabling the story-constructing activity of players”(Jenkins, n.d).

The emergent narrative could be used in tangent with embedded narrative. The use of emergent narrative means that the player choice and freedom are in the game. The use of emergent narratives can alleviate the weakness of embed narrative, which is a lack of interaction. Besides, the strength of Embedded narratives with solid storylines can be used to compensate for the weak points of emergent narratives that make it easy for players to get bored. As plot and freedom balance each other in the game, an influential game is created.

Biswas, S. (2016, March 1). Videogames and the art of spatial storytelling. Retrieved from https://killscreen.com/previously/articles/videogames-and-the-art-of-spatial-storytelling/

Grave, G. (2018, May 17). Emergent narratives in games. Retrieved from https://multiverse-narratives.com/2015/05/07/emergent-narratives-in-games/

Jenkins, H. (n.d.). Game Design as Narrative Architecture. MIT – Massachusetts Institute of Technology. https://web.mit.edu/~21fms/People/henry3/games&narrative.html

Jones, N. (2020, May 13). Embedded and Emergent Narrative Lecture.[Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from https://blackboard.aut.ac.nz/bbcswebdav/pid-5167309-dt-content-rid-11524898_4/xid-11524898_4

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