Narratives for Interaction_Eric Zimmerman Reflection

The essay written by Eric Zimmerman about the four main concepts of a game was a refreshing read and I had gained much insight about games, narrative and interactivity. However, I could only agree to a certain extent of the topic at hand, and I had a point to add on to the essay as well.

The essay mentioned and showed a sign of dissatisfaction with pre-scripted narrative games and praised computer-generated narrative such as “The Sims”. I had to correct his thoughts as it was not as elementary as he thought it would be. To put it simply, pre-scripted narrative and computer-generated narrative were just different ways to tell a story, and achieved very different goals.

A computer-generated narrative achieved a dynamic, complex storytelling with unexpected turns and event based on the player’s action. However, with further scrutiny, the magic that made such interesting narrative would eventually disappear. Every action the player made would results in the same predictable consequences. Not mentioning that computer-generated narratives were inconsistent, breaks all narrative structure and pacing. On the other hand, pre-scripted narrative games have no such problems. Even though the replayability of such games were low, the game and the narrative itself were consistent. Unfolding each event as it was supposed to, therefore allowing the players to enjoy the narrative of the game as the game developers intended.

At the end of the day, the gaming industry and the investors would prefer a low-risk and consistent product to invest in, thus the increased of pre-scripted games. However, one should not despise such games due to the popularity as there were no right or wrong in terms of narration. The writer should not show such bias as it displayed his immature thought process.

One point that was not mention in the essay I would like to add on was another criteria that would make a game was the risk factor. With the rigid structure and monotone rules of a game, the element of risk was the one that elevate games from an “Interactive Narrative Experiences”. A possibility to win more and a risk of losing all that have been gained, to put it in layman’s term, a gamble! A sort of gamble was present in every single game, from poker to chess to video games. Even a simple puzzle game could be improved with a timer and the possibility of a fail state. Difficult, yes! But infinitely more rewarding than a simple puzzle game. However with today’s games, failures were inconsequence and even outright dismissive.  I could only hope that this would change in the future.