“A Narrative Designer’s Toolkit”

I attended the 1:30pm session done by Ken Rolston. Ken gave a very quick but detailed presentation on what tools are useful for a narrative game designer. Some points that particularly stood out to me were the ideas of tactibility and a player’s emotional response to a game.

The topic of tactibility came up when discussing the importance of the quality of objects one uses in a narrative game. Narrative games are dense in their use of dialogue. Objects intentionally placed to interact with characters can give the player information in a more interactive or tactile way. An example of this was a worn train ticket. Rolston showed this image in his presentation and it sparked my interest. I wondered what are some things that a train ticket could say better than a dialogue among characters or the narrator and the player. A train ticket could tell the player, where they’re going or have been, or where some one else in the story has been or is going. What are other objects that can speak for themselves? Would an engraved ring or a planner do the same?

A connection I did not expect to make with narrative games is their attentiveness to the player’s emotional experience. Take the train ticket for example, what if the train ticket revealed that a loved one in the story planned to escape or runaway. This would most likely evoke a sense of sadness or anger due to betrayal; nonetheless the tactile object evoked a emotional response. Similarly Rolston discussed that fonts evoke different emotions as well. Fonts can take the player into a different time period and then evoke a sense of emotion through different perceptions. I found this idea to parallel our past discussion in regards to how music in games evoke an emotional response. I think fonts evoking a sense of emotion in a player is an idea we do not consciously notice but is a very powerful one. The emotions a font stirs up are not only valuable in narrative games but have value in other games as it could potentially sustain the mood of a game even while the player navigates menus or opening scenes. Are there other non-diegetic elements that purposefully evoke a subconscious emotional response from the player?

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