The Personal Experience of Narratives in Role-Playing Games

Michael Hitchens, Anders Drachen

The role of story and narrative within games has been debated at length. By taking the approach that narrative can be understood with games, but only by incorporating the dynamics of game play and by accepting that existing models of narrative must be modified, this paper examines the place of narrative within role-playing games. Narrative can be defined as a description of a series of events. The description that narrative represents is experienced by the players, in an individual and personal manner. The implications of this for familiar concepts such as story and text are examined, and definitions proposed for them in the role-playing game context. Each can be best understood as unique to each participant in the game. The result shows that existing theories can be applied to the gaming context, but only with significant modification. The definitions proposed also allow for an initial consideration of how narrative is constructed in role-playing games.

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