Prani on games, winning and narrative. Re The Sims, you play it as a game, it has rules, and winning (as much critical writing points out) equals maintaining a family in ‘health’ etc. You can game it, but it is not a story. It is trivial to make games that you can’t necessarily win, but they are still rule governed, procedural (e.g. turn taking) and about the accruing of points, even where the game doesn’t call them point (in The Sims it is a house, income, job, and other middle class things). Stories don’t let you accrue health points, gold, power up, form clans or guilds, barter, and so on. And while some games have narrative the issue is whether narrative is fundamental to games. That is the debate, not whether a game might use some narrative but whether it is fundamental (can you have a game without a narrative, if yes therefore narrative isn’t what we need to use to understand what games really are).

Kimberly picks up similar points and uses Mario Bros as an example. The issue though is that saving Princess Peach doesn’t
‘matter’ to the game play. In other words Mario Bros is a successful game not because of its story, but because of its game play, which uses some very simple things to provide a frame for the game play. Afer all, it’s a pretty long reach to claim that Mario Bros is a good game because it is such a good story. It’s a good game because of the quality of its game play, the story, if we treated that as legitimately a narrative we’d have to recognise pretty quickly it is even less sophisticated than most stories told to children. (We have to save Princess Peach – why? i.e. as a ‘story’ what is the narrative motivation and justification here?) Similarly the motivation is to level up, not save the Princess, levelling up comes first (who asks how many characters have you rescued versus what level?) and the Princess is some decoration. Finally the multiple endings described by Kimberely are not hypertextual (this post and another on Maths and English and finally the one on Ted Nelson where I use some diagrams to explain hypertext are useful.

Ella too, suggesting Tetris is a narrative because there is a goal and you need to progress toward it. Let’s get academic here, there is no viable definition of narrative that says it is progression towards a goal. This is, though, a strong definition of what a game is. When we read we might aim to finish the book (a goal), but that is not what a story is, that is what you need to do to read the story. To think finishing = story would be the same as saying reading (since we need to read the novel) = story. It doesn’t. The phone book is not a story.