Playing the Story: The Emergence of Narrative through the Interaction between Players, Game Mechanics, and Participatory Fan Communities.
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If all games are understood as ultimately driven by the operation of their mechanics, then that operation cannot fully exist without the interaction of a player, and by extension the participatory fan community in which that player is situated. This interaction, in turn, can often produce a form of constructed reality known as emergent narrative, leading to this dissertation’s primary question: Do game mechanics inherently produce emergent narrative? Throughout this dissertation, I will argue that game mechanics produce an emergent narrative as an inherent consequence of their interaction with players and the surrounding community. In answering how emergent narrative comes out of the interaction between players, games, and ultimately the surrounding community, I will examine five key issues: player agency, the actual production of emergent narrative, narrative in non-narrative games, the role of participatory fan communities, and the potential use of emergent narrative in applied game design. Each of these areas in turn will be investigated through the lens of a case study on a relevant game. The main underlying idea that this dissertation adds to ongoing research is that the production of emergent narrative is an unavoidable consequence of playing a game. While the degree and direction of emergent narrative may vary considerably depending on the interaction itself, the very act of interacting between the player, their surrounding participatory community, and the game itself always produces some form of emergent narrative. This distinction makes any play experience potentially meaningful, and helps move the academic discussion of narrative in games beyond outdated ludology-versus-narratology models towards a more fluid and accurate theory of emergent narrative in games. This should allow for better games scholarship, better game design, and better application of game elements in applied contexts.
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Ryan Clement (2017). Playing the Story: The Emergence of Narrative through the Interaction between Players, Game Mechanics, and Participatory Fan Communities.. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12681