Annotated Bibliography #4

Just one entry today, but it’s a good one. A lot for me to chew on.

Moser, Christopher and Xiaowen Fang. “Narrative Structure and Player Experience in Role-Playing Games.” International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 31, no. 2, Feb. 2015, pp. 146-156. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/10447318.2014.986639. 

I find this article interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, I love RPGs and have been known to become quite invested in my characters. Second, this article focuses a great deal on player choices, and how the more choices that are presented to the player, the more enjoyable the game is to the player. From the abstract itself, it says that there has been no empirical study of RPG narratives and gameplay choices, and that this article attempts to do so through two experiments.

As this is a data-driven, scientific study, the article is broken down into all of the requisite components such as a literature review and covering methodology. The data itself intimidates my humanities-oriented point of view, so that will require further study. However, there are important things I can pull from this article without diving too deeply into the data. For example, there is the “Illusion of Choice,” “causal agency,” and embedded and emergent narratives (p. 147). There is also a suggestions that RPGs may provide for heightened role-play due to a larger emphasis on stories compared to other games. That being said, personally, I feel the definition of RPG in this case to be somewhat nebulously defined. The game used for the study, however, was Mass Effect 2, which I feel is a decent game to build this study on. The biggest caveat, for me, was that the study was not constructed from actual gameplay, but rather pre-recorded gameplay of various branching scenarios in the game narrative.

The reason I feel that this article is useful to my proposal is that it would slide rather well into my chapters on Game Immersion or Game Fiction, as this study covers both game design elements and storytelling in games. The data also indicates that the more choices provided to the player increases the enjoyment of the story overall. Ideally, I would like to give the player many options within the visual novel I am constructing to come to decisions that affect the larger game world. Therein lies the challenge, however; I need to figure out how to construct this system into the game.

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