Alan Wake Writer Blames Ludonarrative Dissonance on Game Expectations
Ah, ludonarrative dissonance: we’re all familiar with it. It’s the disconnect between the narrative and ‘play’ aspects of a game. Think, for example, how Nathan Drake is characterized as a likeable good guy and yet we spend all game killing dozens upon dozens of people: the narrative would suggest Nathan is not capable of that.
Anyway, in an interview with Game Sugar, Remedy studios writer Mikko Rautalahti has the following to say about storytelling in video games:
“I think it can be difficult to tell stories in video games. There are all these conventions â€“ you are expected to have a certain amount of combat, a certain minimum number of gameplay hours, etc. These conventions aren’t really engineered with storytelling in mind. So a lot of the time, you end up kind of glossing over some of the details in your head â€“ I mean, if you’re playing the lone hero, in terms of the story, does that guy really rack up a four-digit body count? Does he really get repeatedly shot with high-caliber weapons and mysteriously heal himself? And if you really get stuck at a difficult part, does that really mean that the hero also spent an hour just running around in frustration and then quit. Probably not, you know?”
Perhaps it is time that game developers start breaking convention for the sake of the medium, then, no? We know we can achieve technical/mechanical decency, now it’s time to take that one step further and achieve ludonarrative harmony. And it’s time we stop being appeasers about this all, too, stop giving game developers reasons to skimp out on the narrative. They have no reason to take narrative a step further if we’re happy with experiencing the same shoddy conventions over and over again.