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Hal Barwood on Integrating Narrative into Play (10 Mar 2005)
Barwood explained that this tendency to actually introduce story elements into games may arise from well-studied scientific foundations: neurological science has proven humans have a “story sense” located in the left prefrontal lobe. Patients who have extreme cases of epilepsy were sometimes treated with the severing of the corpus callosum, a tissue that connects both lobes from their brain. As a result of this surgery procedure epilepsy was reduced, but also their sense to tell and remember stories. So, humans have a certain ability to amplify any event with a story component: maybe the dots in Pong are angry, and fight each other, and so forth.

From here Barwood went on to analyze several approaches to story telling in video games. As a first example, he compared the script of Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb for the Playstation with the song "Don't Touch my Hat" by Lyle Lovett. While the video game script felt like a sequence of rather intercut sequences with very little flow between them, the song explored all angles to hats in a very cohesive way. Indiana Jones' script consisted of too many elements, with no drama and where the story advances without much player intervention. Summarizing this example, Barwood proposed all game stories should have solidity (meaning they need to be believable), specificity (meaning they need to tell events with a sufficient level of detail), expressivity through drama, and compression so only the relevant facts are explained, and all empty ground is skipped. As a result, Barwood presented a global story blueprint, consisting of premise, setting, character, action and dialogue, items he devoted the rest of his talk to.
Article URL: http://www.gamasutra.com/gdc2005/features/20050311/postcard-crespo.htm

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