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Über dieses Buch

The book provides a comprehensive application of narrative theory to video games, and presents the player-response paradigm of game criticism. Video Game Narrative and Criticism explains the nature of gameplay - a psychological experience and a meaning-making process in the fictional world of video games.




A structural study of the video game narrative is overdue. Narration in games defies the conventional understanding of how stories are communicated because the story is told both by the player and the game system. In this introduction, we will present groundwork concepts such as the nature of play as an act of narration and the question of criticism.

Tamer Thabet

1. A Player’s Story

Through literary and cinematic perspectives, the application of narrative theory shows how the player of a game story co-narrates, becomes the perceiving character, and replaces the protagonist by means ofplay/performance. Gameplay is an act of narration fulfilled by the player and the system. On the one hand, the player’s actions and responses create a form of subjective expression that substitutes the concept of voice in noninteractive genres. On the other, the player’s control of the camera is a storytelling function in the filmic sense as it determines what is focused on and what is ignored. However, the player is not the only narrator; the game system also narrates by means of a more complex and authoritative narrating agency that challenges the player’s own discourse.

Tamer Thabet

2. Game Criticism

How should the video game story be interpreted? Player-response criticism considers the nature of game fiction by centralizing the player in the analysis. Since narrative and cinematic perspectives explain the game story as a personal experience, the key to interpretation becomes the subjective analysis of the player’s response. This automatically entails that in the absence of an invariable text that may be interpreted collectively in computer games, what we really have is only an ad hoc narrative construction that is subjective to each individual player and could change every time the game is played. In player-response criticism, the video game narrative is reconstructed and accounted for as post factum by the player, even as it remains fundamentally open to rewriting.

Tamer Thabet


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