Daily Archives: May 5, 2004

narratology vs. ludology

Once again the narratology has returned. Both those links have some interesting points. However, this whole debate, imho, like the violence debate, is misguided.

Why does it matter if videogames have narrative or not? What is the end goal of that? It seems to me that the end goal is to study the relationship between the player and the game and how that relationship comes about. If that is the end goal, then why does it matter if it is narrative or not? If taken in the larger context of ultimately finding out how we interact with these games, then it doesn’t really matter all that much what theories we use to get there, does it? As long as we get there, the road doesn’t matter all that much — within reason of course. I’m not saying the ends justify the means here, just that in academia we sometimes get so worked up about who people put on their works cited list that we froget to actually read the paper, so to speak.

I always say that I don’t study videogames, I study the players and their relationship to the games. I suppose there are those that do study just the game, but even then, we do all this bluster about “interactive” and “ergodic” and whatnot, so is it even possible to theorize about videogames without talking about the role of the player at all??

I am probably a ludologist but, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. What I’m calling for is a refocusing on what we are really studying. If we study videogames, we have to study the people playing them, don’t we? So then, if I think, Narratology is for losers (that is an April Fool’s joke in case you haven’t seen it), and you don’t, it doesn’t really matter because my opinion doesn’t stop you from doing your work.

I’m studying people. How about you?