In recent years, the study of video games has become a vital field of transmedial narratology. At the beginning of this development, however, the productivity of applying narratological approaches to video games was ardently disputed: In the so-called ‘ludology vs. narratology’ dabate, ludologists argued that analyzing video games as narratives would not do justice to the medium. The ludologists instead advocated approaches from game theory, as they regarded interactive play as the defining characteristic of video games.
It is now generally accepted that this debate has to be seen in its institutional context: the ludologists’ dissociation from narratology undergirded their attempt to establish Game Studies as an independent discipline. However, the juxtaposition of video games’ ludic and narrative elements was not completely abandoned; on the contrary, current research current research continues to develop this idea further. Thus, the first two contributions to this issue both investigate the relationship between interactivity and narrativity. In order to describe the relationship between interactive and narrative elements in video games, Kai Matuszkiewicz introduces the hybrid concept of internarrativity, which he defines as a video game’s potential to be actualised by the recipient as both a game and a narrative. According to Matuszkiewicz, a game’s degree of internarrativity is greatest when narrativity and interactivity are well balanced. Ralph Müller also considers narrativity and interactivity to be gradable attributes of video games. In contrast to Matuszkiewicz, however, he conceptualizes them as antagonistic features, a hypothesis which he illustrates by comparing the degrees of narrativity and interactivity of three different text types: a literary text which encourages a conventional linear reception despite the fact that it was published electronically, a literary hypertext and a text-based computer game. Like the medium of film, the medium of video games suggests a concept of narrative which waives the necessity of a narrative instance, since narrativity in video games typically occurs on the level of the represented story rather than on the level of discourse. However, this does not mean that narratological concepts developed to describe elements of literary stories can be applied to video games without modification. This is the argument put forward in the contribution by Felix Schröter and Jan-Noël Thon, who propose a medium-specific theory of characters to account for their medium-specific representation, reception and function in video games.
Befitting this issue’s thematic focus, the interview column “My Narratology” features Marie-Laure Ryan, one of the most prominent scholars of transmedial narratology, who answers our questions about her personal experiences, opinions, and predilections concerning narratives and narrative theory.
In addition, Hartmut Koenitz outlines current debates at the crossroads of Game Studies and narrative theory in his report about the 6th International Conference for Interactive Digital Storytelling: “Connecting Narrative Worlds”, which took place in Istanbul from November 6-9, 2013.
This work or content is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.