Dossier - Narrative: weaving the threads of destiny

Narrative: weaving the threads of destiny

When it comes to storytelling, whether in video games or other media, we’ve seen some great theories, principles, models to follow and so on. Whether you’re a fan of Truby (Anatomie d’un scénario) or Campbell (Le Héro aux mille et un visages) or Lavandier (La Dramaturgie – L’art du récit), it’s totally possible to project these principles of narration, character presentation or even plot development onto novels, comics and other films or series. All the more so nowadays, with the clichés, tropes and strict codes of certain genres, the path is more or less totally banalized. And yet: every rule has its exceptions, of course, and rules are often made to be bent, reshaped and readapted. It’s those works with a keen sense of narrative and conceptual misuse that stick in the mind. Or those that push to the limit or master perfectly the bricks that shape a story.

In videogames, we find exactly the same thing, albeit with a few differences. The main difference lies in interaction, in the player’s ability to shape her own destiny. Or not. And therein lies the crux of the “problem”. There are many different types of narration, many different ways of looking at things and bringing a story to life. In the same way, the screenplay is not necessarily the central element of a title. It can be ancillary, supporting gameplay or the developers’ graphic vision, or it can convey a message, evoke a theme, a subject, a moral. A narrative is a sum of little things, whether it’s just a developed lore, a narrative framework with stakes, a strong and present story.

Video game Myst investigation game Image showing the ruins of eight columns with two lamps in the foreground and a sort of central well.
Myst, the mystery and enigma game that lets you discover your surroundings as you go…

Sometimes, the elements of the universe are enough for us to project ourselves inside the game and deduce many things from it. This is the case with a number of independent games, such as Fe, Journey or Ryme, which feature mysterious, sometimes philosophical universes. The Witness uses the same process, as did Myst in its day. Without necessarily laying out a strong storyline, the various storylines are elements that draw you into the game’s universe. Giving you a few plot elements (in the various senses of the word, both “narrative” and “astonishing”) in a rather empty world encourages you to imagine, to project yourself, to try to unravel the mystery behind this absence. Because sometimes, it’s precisely the absence that’s interesting and captivating: why is there nothing? no one?

While there are many different types of narrative and ways of looking at a story, there are three main theoretical categories. These are, of course, tools that creators can then have fun modifying, combining and exploring.

What are these narratives? How do they differ from one another? Can they be mixed?

Story time?

To venture into a game is to discover a story, or to shape one. Humans and nature don’t like a vacuum: sandbox games are the breeding ground for your stories, and even simple puzzle games have a certain storytelling, a story or a few words, that make it easier for you to immerse yourself in them. Rare are the games that don’t have one: whether it’s changeable according to your choices; tenuous and fits on a post-it note; or simply that the game gives you full power to build it yourself.

Before exploring them, let’s take a quick look at the different types of narrative. As is often the case, while there are three main categories here, that doesn’t mean there aren’t more. Just that they are often variations on these broad families, or simply a mix between the two. We’ll look at this in more detail later.

The first is the linear plot. You live your story, and choices are illusory because everything is scripted. Events unfold at the pace you desire, but they are inescapable. Destiny is on the march, and unless you put down the joystick, you can’t stop it. But there’s a difference between a linear plot and a linear game design: you can totally live this kind of game experience in an open world. What counts is not the space you have to play in, but the plot milestones you can’t go against. Just as the term “linear” may refer, in novels or other media, to a chronological order, in video games, a few small differences often appear, as we’ll see later.

Video game Dark Pictures Anthology house of Ashes representing the tree of treasures and secrets discoverable in this horror game.
In Dark Pictures Anthology: House Of Ashes, secrets are linked to the narrative paths you take…

The second is the tree-like plot. Your choices matter – well, not all of them – but you’ll be able to wander around a wide map of possibilities. This type of scenario can range from a few multiple endings to over a hundred, taking into account the death of one of your characters, or the moral choices you’ll have to make. Often, these plots can be likened to choral novels: you have several characters at your disposal, as in Detroit Become Human or Dark Pictures. Of course, here too there are indispensable milestones, but they are less visible, more hidden, and their use is only to give you a glimpse of the sum of possible choices and paths you can take.

The third: puzzle plots. Although it’s not the “official” term for this type of story, it’s the most evocative one. Imagine yourself in front of a jigsaw puzzle: it’s your turn to do it all over again, and you don’t know the final picture. You already have all the pieces. They’re right in front of you. It’s up to you to rearrange them to reveal the whole picture, to understand the ins and outs. And there are as many ways of doing this as there are players behind the joystick. This third category borrows from the first two, shaping a ball of yarn, a Gordian knot that you’ll have to unravel, thread by thread, by the sheer force of your curiosity.

From a line to a story

First of all, linear narration. This is the simplest to determine, although there is the counter-intuitive exception of certain open worlds. In the first instance, a linear narrative is a directly chronological story. You follow the plot in one direction, from beginning to end. In the video game context, it’s a narrative over which you have no control. Even if the presence of flashbacks can break the chronological aspect, a narrative remains linear if you go from point A to point B defined by the scriptwriters without having the possibility of leaving the road and going to end C, D or E, as these were not planned by the designers in any case.

Of course, most of the time, this type of story is envisaged in the context of an adventure game, a point-and-click game, or a game where the level design is based on the “corridor” principle. Since the plot takes only one path, the level design can do the same. For example, the great classic RPGs of the 80s and 90s demonstrate this principle. The story is exciting and well-defined, and even the map, though often split into several dungeons, towns and environments, is linear. Even when Tales of Symphonia has open-world elements, the narrative effectively leads you in a straight line to the inescapable end. No choice, of course, but immersion as the driving force behind the story, and fine writing to add suspense or provoke surprise. While RPGs have evolved over time (whether in terms of imaginary worlds, narratives or characters), linear storytelling has conquered other genres: action-RPGs, adventure games, some visual novels (albeit a minority), even platformers and puzzle games. In a way, it’s also the simplest way to tell a story, or to sketch one out in certain games where the plot is not central to the experience.

Linear and open?

Linear narrative is often put to the test by the open-world principle. Since the world is vast and you can go wherever you please, the plot seems to do the same. In reality, many open worlds offer linear narratives. All speedrun experience aside, the side quest is a line that takes you across the map. Along the way, you’ll come across side quests, but on the whole, they won’t change the face of the destiny of the world you’re in. Yes, they may change your understanding of it, but there’s a difference between the understanding you have of your environment and the plot that plays out beneath your fingers. This management of the scenario in a vast world raises as many questions as it raises possibilities. It also blurs the lines as to the type of narrative in which the game fits.

Let’s take The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom as an example, and try to do so without spoiling anything. You’re immersed in a vast world, which you can explore to your heart’s content. You can do the temples/donjons (and shrines) in any order you like. However, all these main quests converge at a given point, a milestone in the plot that is an obligatory passage. On TwiX, user @ZeldaLoreYT analyzed ToTK‘s plot in depth to show both its linearity and the ways in which, via the open world, the game sends us back on the right path at every moment: (or without images).

screenshot of the first tweet of the thread on twitter / X by ZeldaLoreYT about the history of the video game Zelda Tears of the Kingdom
The entire thread describes the narrative of Tears of the Kingdom (@ZeldaLoreYT)

While tree narratives (which we’ll discuss later) tend to open up the scenario to multiple endings, choices to be made and sometimes infinite possibilities, a scenario like ToTK‘s tends to restrict them. The illusion of choice lies mainly in the order in which you can visit the temples at the start of the game. But as you progress, the possibilities narrow until only one remains. Yes, you may say, but what about the side quests, some of which are essential to understanding the universe? In retorting, you’re thinking mainly of the famous tears (and it’s not really a spoiler to mention them, they’re in the game’s title after all). As mentioned above, tears, and what they bring, give you insight into the universe. Of course, this is an element of the lore. But whether you happen to pick up a certain sword at the very beginning, or follow the quest that allows you to obtain it later, it doesn’t change the path. Just the front door you came through.

These narrative elements add several things to your experience of the game: surprise, if you hadn’t understood or seen what the tears imply; a certain connivance with the game, since you know; compassion for the protagonist, if he or she or the secondary characters haven’t yet understood. The range of emotions and reactions generated by these elements scattered throughout the open world will enlighten your overall understanding. But it doesn’t change the plot. In fact, the game is well aware of these differences in exploration between players, since it proposes, via obligatory scenes, elements of answers that echo them. What’s more, the open-world aspect of the game, by its very principle, encourages you to dig for yourself.

The strength of ToTK, like other open worlds, lies in its narrative, and in the fact that you don’t necessarily realize how linear it is. The apparent freedom offered by an open world, with its multitude of side quests and items to collect, plunges you into a universe where anything is possible. So, since everything is possible, you should also be able to create your own destiny, shouldn’t you? We often associate openness with the absence of linearity: since we can go in any direction, there’s no reason for the story to be a corridor, a line, when we have access to so much! That’s where the developers’ strength lies: in their ability to use strategy, trickery, magic and even mentalism to get you back on track without you even realizing it. For a long time, this was done through the level of the mobs in certain zones: too high for you from the start, their power induced you to level up in order to defeat them and get past the obstacle. A strategy to show progression, the need to start in that place, there, you see, the only one where you can defeat without dying in a single blow. Yes. Right there. Okay, that’s it, we can launch the first cinematic and the plot that will guide you afterwards.

A single linear narrative?

While the example of ToTK allows us to address the possible linearity of an open world, there are other types of linear narratives. Without necessarily realizing it, we often wonder, once the controller is in hand, whether certain events are scripted. Is the outcome of this confrontation scripted? Is this pitfall in my path? Some other gameplay or plot element? How far can I go? How far can I play the game itself?

video game the stanley parable image of stanley sitting at his desk, from behind, in front of a computer
Will you follow the narrator’s intrusive instructions?

This notion of “script” is inherent to that of narrative. Here, we’re talking about the script in the cinematic sense: the narrative, with dialogues, actions and texts. If it’s written in the script, it’s written in the plot, in your relationship to the game, to the story, to the characters. Sometimes it breaks the fourth wall, and you feel the wink of the developers’ eye. Based on this concept of script, specific to cinema, video games (which stand out for their interactivity with us, on the other side of the screen), play as much with us as we do with them. What would you do if this script were completely visible on screen? If a voice explained to you what the game intended you to do, in real time? See where I’m going with this? Come on, let me introduce you Stanley.

The Stanley Parable is a simple-looking game: a walking simulator in which you play Stanley, a normal office worker. But here’s the thing: the narrator, in the form of a voice-over, narrates everything you do. Everything. In the first few minutes, he explains your environment and your state of mind, but before long, the narrator is anticipating your movements and telling you very clearly what to do. He embodies the script, while ostentatiously showing it to you. In his article The Stanley Parable: the player versus the narrator, Douglas Hoare points out that “if a videogame were to incorporate an omniscient narrator, dictating the avatar’s every move, claiming to know his emotions and anticipate his reactions, the result would be an unpleasant sense of suffocation for the player: he would be thrown into the position of a mere executor”. This raises the question of “wrapping”, of how to conceal the existence of this script to enhance immersion, to ensure that you are not suffocated by the sensation that everything is written down. The experience of The Stanley Parable then shows us a fascinating thing: by trying too hard to guide you, the narrator makes you do the exact opposite. Or at least he encourages you to test, explore and try to defeat the script, which then appears as the game’s antagonist.

Although we’re moving slightly away from linear narration, we’re still in a narrative that gives the illusion of choice, or rather forces you to make one by forcing you along a path.

There are many, many examples of linear narration. Either because the level design imposes it, as in some platformers; or because it’s a seemingly simple and effective way of constructing a scenario. The contribution of video games lies in the illusion of choice, in what surrounds the game, in the interaction you’ll have with its characters. In a novel, film or series, you are the captive spectator. You observe but don’t act. By allowing you to interact with your environment, to truly experience a story, video games encourage developers to experiment, to hide the script, the plot, to give you more freedom, or at least the illusion of it. The other elements that make up a video game – graphics, music, level design and so on – all contribute to this illusion. This is what we call “suspension of disbelief”.

couverture du livre biographia Literaria de Samuel Taylor Coleridge datant de 1817
Biographia Literaria, 1817

The voluntary suspension of disbelief is consented to: it’s the pact you make with the game as soon as you pick up the controller. Theorized by Samuel Coleridge ( ) in his Biographia Literaria (an essay on the creation and reading of poetry) as early as 1817 (mainly for the novel at the time), it’s this conscious truce between a spectator and a work. Yes, I’m faced with a work of fiction, and I accept what’s going to happen despite the use of various elements that aren’t real.

This is where we see the power of a scenario, a level design, characters, graphics and all the rest: since we accept the tacit pact of this voluntary suspension of disbelief, we immerse ourselves in a story that we make our own, that we live through the controller. However, make no mistake: sometimes this doesn’t work, and we find ourselves “exiting” the game, the story, because certain elements make us question the verisimilitude of what we’re looking at.

All types of narrative assume that you have accepted this pact. Some linear narratives use flashbacks and other narrative effects to break the impression of linearity. In video games, where you can live in the past, present or future, this fixed sequence of scenes, whatever its temporality, remains on a fixed narrative line. To get from point A to point B, you’ll have to go through flashback A.1, for example. Of course, as with everything else, examples and counter-examples abound: narrative, like the other elements of a video game, is a tool that can be used in many different ways.

And speaking of differences, let me tell you another story. Or other stories, depending on whether you feel like exploring one or more of them.

The tree that hides the forest

Tree narration, on the other hand, opens the way to a multiple conclusion. It’s made up of choices – yours – and possibilities, sometimes in dialogue, sometimes in your actions. And just as open worlds can contain linear narratives, some games with a “corridor” level design can have a tree-like narrative.

A ball to untangle

Because, as you’ll understand, level design is intimately linked to the story we want to tell, and the Ariadne’s thread that is our narrative can flourish just as well in the nooks and crannies of a labyrinth as in the middle of an immense world. In some cases, it’s even possible to navigate at will after the game has finished. As in the case of Detroit Become Human.

Detroit Become Human video game showing the tree structure of chapter one of the game, with all the possible choices and their consequences
As you progress through Detroit Become Human, you gain access to the game’s tree structure.

In this game, you have access, as you progress, to a complete tree of choices, their impact on the plot of events and the multiple endings they generate. It’s certainly not the first game to use a tree-based narrative, but it’s one of those that makes it perfectly visible right down to the interface. A quick study of any one of Detroit Become Human‘s chapters reveals several plot “nodes”. First, there are the so-called minor nodes: they exist, but have no direct impact on the story as a whole. These choices, or events, allow you to give a particular voice to your character, to characterize him or her a little more. But they are also there to remind you of an important moment later on, or a consequence of a past choice.

The major nodes are important moments: the choice you make will create a fork in the road, a new narrative route. They are the starting point for the various possibilities. Many games offer a few choices, sometimes illusory, sometimes allowing you to go further and further into the plot. Heavy Rain was one of the first narrative games to take into account the death of one or more of the playable protagonists, increasing the number of possibilities and, above all, adding a “realistic” dimension to its plot: just because so-and-so dies doesn’t mean the story stops.

But long before video games, this type of narrative architecture was found in productions such as Books Where You Are the Hero. Leaving you free to choose whether to turn to page 12 or 46, to do this or that action, the book itself opens up several paths and often proposes several endings. While it’s almost always a question of choices, these can present themselves to you in different ways. The most common, as found in games such as Dark Picture, for example, are those included in the dialogues. Sometimes you have a time limit to respond, and silence is possible. But your words have an impact on the plot. As if to materialize this impact, and make it more palpable to players, messages such as “Such a character will remember” are sometimes displayed at the top of the screen. This indication is there both to materialize the choice, to induce a potential change in the timeline (whether important or not) and, above all, to give you the palpable, tangible impression that what you do has an impact. This is a double-edged sword, however: while it can give you the proof that your path is being mapped out in front of you as you make your decisions, it can also give you the illusion that it is, when in fact there is only one possible path.

Only for narrative games?

Making choices and taking responsibility for them, or at least seeing their impact and consequences as your adventure unfolds, remains one of the main elements of many RPGs, narrative games, interactive films and other productions where the storyline is central. But that’s not all. If the impact of your choices can be seen in a game like Paper Please, it can also be seen in a more subtle way in a title like The Cosmic Wheel Sisterhood. The Witcher 3 is one of the RPGs best known for its ability to open up the storyline slightly and introduce a notion of choice, while still allowing you to influence your environment through certain major decisions, without having as well-developed a narrative tree as Until Dawn, for example. Other games, such as Firewatch, give you the illusion of choice: by proposing a succession of choices and questions about your life, your wife and what happened to her as the opening scene, the game distills a few details into its gameplay, but doesn’t change the plot for all that.

Firewatch walking simulator video game where you see nature with a mountain in the background, a hand with a walkie-talkie and three choices to make
In Firewatch, you have the illusion of choice. Your decisions have little impact on your adventure.

The tricky thing about choices is that you can give the illusion of them. And just because you’re asked to choose between the blue and red doors doesn’t mean that the scenario behind them is going in two different directions. This illusion, this subtle manipulation of the players to involve them in the story, gives rise to some confusion about the notion of tree narration. Certainly, if there are only two possible paths (the good and the bad, to take the example of the first InFamous, for example), that already means a fork in the road, already a choice, already a variation. But how many possibilities does it take to create a real narrative where your choices have a real impact other than the color of your skin, your lightning bolts, etc.? The question remains open.

While narrative games are more inclined to have this type of narrative, it can also be found in other types of productions, whether in a very advanced way or not. We talked about lore in the introduction and how, in some games, a few scattered elements can help shape a world and a plot. Elden Ring players know: lore is everywhere, in item descriptions, bestiaries, compendiums and other ancillary elements. But that’s not all. Plot elements are also scattered throughout the game as you progress.  This is the case with Hades, for example. Because of the rogue-like nature of the game, the narrative is necessarily fragmented. And because you choose which direction to go, which room to explore, which god to meet, you determine your access to certain elements of the game’s lore.

As you no doubt know, the rogue-like principle is to offer you procedurally-generated dungeons. At the end of each room, you may be presented with a fork in the road, a choice to be made as to which room you wish to continue into. Where Hades stands out from other games is in the integration of lore and story into this choice. True, you can choose between the various bonuses and some milestones are fixed (notably in the bosses), but through your choice of blessings and various encounters with the deities of Olympus, you can influence your access to the game’s lore. Each god and goddess has something to tell and teach you about the history of Zagreus. With its rogue-like structure, Hades‘ narrative can almost be likened to a tree-like narrative: you make choices, read (or not) the dialogues with the gods and goddesses who come to teach you more. The possibility of offering them nectars and increasing your friendship with them adds to the amount of information you’ll unlock.

And it’s thanks to its lore and construction that the game has been able to reach a very wide audience: both those who love roguelike games and those who enjoy more narrative games!

Curiosity: the best engine for exploration

Let’s start with the most striking example, the one you all thought of when you read the introduction: Outer Wilds. We can only refer you to the excellent podcast made by the Point’n Think team on the subject to explore it at its best. If we were to return to it briefly to illustrate our “puzzle narrative”, we could say that it is a gaming experience that is by no means insignificant. It left a lasting impression on players for its immensity and the vertigo provoked by the realization that everything, absolutely everything, was accessible from the very first minutes of play. All the pieces were in front of you, all you had to do was assemble them, according to a principle that your exploration dictated, that your curiosity breathed into you, that your spirit of adventure and discovery guided. You were free to do this in any order you wished, sometimes stumbling across strange places that would only be explained much later, once several pieces had been put together, once the framework, the design of your puzzle, had been revealed a little more.

Outer Wilds video game view of the game's solar system with its various visitable planets
Go wherever you want: the universe is at your fingertips!

In this type of game (Outer Wilds, though rightly on everyone’s lips, is not the only one), curiosity is encouraged and rewarded. It’s because you’ve wanted to go and see this planet, that place, talk to that NPC, that you manage to understand or make some connections between the elements at your disposal. If we use the image of a puzzle, it’s not for nothing: it’s because you’re facing one of them, you’ve got all the pieces out of order, and for the moment you don’t know what the final picture is. It’s only by observing and exploring the pieces, combining some of them, testing, searching and testing again, that you’ll be able to begin to make out the outlines.

All the pieces are there. Seize them!

As we said, Outer Wilds is not the only game with this type of structure. There are, for example, games such as Telling Lies, in which you are faced with a computer, a vast amount of data and a search engine to try and figure out what you’re looking for. Similarly, Immortality offers this kind of narrative system. Perhaps more literal about the puzzle aspect than Outer Wilds, these two titles present a narrative that can seem disjointed. Piecemeal, controlled solely by your logic and research (although you can bypass the system in Telling Lies and access everything at once), these two games never offer the same progression: because it depends entirely on you. But everything is within reach. The absence of any real tutorial (other than the basic controls) leaves you wondering where you fit in, who you’re playing and why, let alone what’s going on before your eyes. This is where the total curiosity required to penetrate the secret of this type of story comes into play. Since the game lets you do anything… you’ll try anything, won’t you?

Return of Obra Dinn video game, ship's log with a photo of circled characters on the right page and a map of the ship with a mark to indicate a corpse on the left.
Complete the Obra Dinn’s logbook and find out what happened.

This type of narrative construction seems to be most often associated with tales of exploration or investigation. This is the case, for example, with a game like Return of Obra Dinn. Developed by Lucas Pope (also responsible for Paper Please) and released in 2018, Return of Obra Dinn recounts the exploration of the merchant ship in 1807 lost at sea since 1802. You’re sent there to try and sort out what’s true from what’s false, and above all to understand what happened to the ship, which is now completely empty. Only corpses litter the deck. Fortunately, thanks to your watch/compass, you can review the last moments of the dead. With the information you’ve acquired, you can fill in your booklet with the names of the dead and the causes of their demise. All the information is there for you to grasp and understand the ins and outs of what’s going on on this ship, between monstrous catastrophe and much more pragmatic settling of scores.

One thing leads to another, and you’ll come to understand more and more: the story unfolds as you make deductions and discoveries. By untangling the tangle of information, images and words, you can begin to understand what really happened on the ship. Even if Return of Obra Dinn is a little more directed than Outer Wilds, the narrative structure remains quite similar: you have all the information at your disposal, you can move from one corpse to another, retrieve information, deduce others, all the while arranging the pieces of your final puzzle. What’s more, the discovery of a central chapter at the very end of your adventure reinforces this impression of a puzzle whose picture you can’t quite make out. It’s when you complete this final chapter – adding the final piece of the puzzle – that everything makes sense, and the elements you’ve collected so far reveal their true potential.

video game Telling lies screenshot of a computer desktop with a search bar and videos that meet the required criteria
Telling Lies encourages you to look, even going so far as to use a conventional search engine to point you in the right direction.

The same applies to a game like Telling Lies or Immortality. Even if the gameplay differs, in both cases you’re faced with an ever-growing mass of information through which you’ll have to spot patterns, understand patterns, unearth a plot. The plot does exist, but it’s up to you to discover it and understand its ins and outs. Curiosity is essential to make you want to grasp what’s at stake. It’s the driving force behind your game and your desire to move forward. That’s why investigation and exploration games are best structured in this way: because the genre itself encourages curiosity. You want to know who killed who, what happened, what’s hidden, what you need to find out. More than a story, it’s a treasure hunt where you don’t know what’s in the chest. But as a great philosopher once said: it’s not the destination that’s important, it’s the journey.

This type of game, however, is difficult to define and describe: since the whole experience is played with the controller in hand, driven by one’s own curiosity, every game is different, every approach specific. Whether in Telling Lies or Outer Wilds, there are as many beginnings as there are individuals. The choice of the first planet, the first keyword you type, is up to you. And therein lies the difficulty of the game’s level design: because it’s all about giving players the freedom to start wherever they want, while at the same time providing enough information to keep you from getting completely lost. This is achieved in a number of ways.

In Outer Wilds, it’s all about getting the launch codes: this encourages you to quickly explore the planet, discover the controls, and try out the rocket mini-module if you feel like it. In Telling Lies, things are even more intuitive: by placing you in front of a screen with a search bar like the ones you use every day, the game doesn’t need to explain the gameplay to you. It doesn’t even need to give you any more hints than that: instinctively, you’ll look up a word, see that it refers to a series of videos and figure it out. It’s both simple and ingenious: by using something that everyone knows, there’s no need to provide instructions on how to use it. You can then explore all the data at your disposal as you wish. That’s also what makes people curious. You know you’re in a game, so why are you offering a search interface? What is there to search for that can help you in this game? That can teach you what you’re doing here? In Telling Lies, the reflection of your character in the screen brings you even closer to your character: who hasn’t seen themselves in their computer’s reflection? This proximity, coupled with an instinctive curiosity about the familiar interface, means that we’re quick to put ourselves in this investigator’s shoes. And even if she isn’t: you are, because you’re trying to understand what you’re doing here, what the game expects of you.

More stories?

To this already wide range of narratives, we can add others. Hybrids, which mix the tree-like and the linear, opening up to several possibilities and then narrowing down to a single path. MMORPGs and their very specific structure, where everything is accessible, as you see fit, according to your desires and your group, but where a certain guideline emerges behind the multiplicity of NPC requests at your disposal.

As we’ve already mentioned, storytelling is a toolbox that developers can use as they see fit. It crosses the boundaries of genres, gameplay types and possibilities to add another dimension to the game. After that, there’s nothing to stop you creating your own: whether it’s with game editors like Little Big Planet, which lets you shape your own adventures from scratch; or projecting any story you like into games like Minecraft or the new version of Fornite x Lego and other sandbox-type games.

video game Minecraft image of Steve facing several enemies in an all cube minecraft setting
It’s up to you to tell your own stories!

There are dozens, hundreds, thousands of stories to be told or lived, controller in hand. They take many forms, but it’s in their multiplicity that they really come into their own…!


  • La narration dans le jeu vidéo, site GameHer, posté par Joichiro, 9 septembre 2018 (dernière consultation le 09/01/24) : 
  • The Stanley Parable : le joueur contre le narrateur, de Douglas Hoare, dans Poïétique du jeu vidéo, sous la direction de Pascal Krajewski, 2021 (dernière consultation le 09/01/24) : 
  • Émergence de la narration procédurale dans le jeu de société. Empreinte et heuristique des modèles vidéoludiques, de Samuel Francblu, dans Les récits par et sur le numérique, sous la direction de Stéphane Goria, Rémi Cayatte et Dario Compagno, 2022 (dernière consultation le 09/01/24) : 
  • Mise en scène du choix et narrativité expérientielle dans les jeux vidéo et les livres dont vous êtes le héros, de Patrick Moran, dans Du ludique au narratif. Enjeux narratologiques des jeux vidéo, sous la direction de Sébastien Genvo, 2018 (dernière consultation le 09/01/24) : 
  • Déterminer et définir le rôle du choix dans une narration interactive, au regard du jeu vidéo : étude des usages, mises en scène et enjeux du choix dans quatre jeux vidéo indépendants à la première personne, de Leili Mir Khosravi, mémoire en vue de l’obtention du master 1 en Audiovisuel, Médias Interactifs Numériques, Jeux Conception de Dispositifs Ludiques, université de Lorraine, 2020-2021 (dernière consultation le 09/01/24) : 

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