1. Hmm, that’s an interesting idea. I’m not sure it’s universally true — games are just too diverse — but it’s truthy, definitely. If stories:games :: music:movies, though, what about music:games?

  2. Agreed. We also have the issue of story:movies going unexamined here. But the biggest counter-examples are those where the story is 100% emergent from the gameplay itself (I’m thinking classic games like Robotron — near defeat! daring escape! — though from there you can talk about the kind of story overlay that gets added to bring us from Robotron to SmashTV), which means you should really be accounting for that sort of purely emergent story even in games that also include explicit storytelling elements, after which you’re really right back in the thick of it, narratology-vs.-ludology-wise.

    But as for music:games, it can surely be broken down into a bunch of sub-categories too. Sometimes it’s closer to how music gets used in commercials than how it gets used in movies (i.e., for a lot of the classics the music may merely be a pleasant little jingle that’ll help you feel good about what you’re watching right now, not something being mobilized in the service of a particular mood or story-event). In other cases it’s probably working to draw out the narrative that’s emerging from the gameplay (“that was close!” “this is exciting!”). And in others it probably is related less to the gameplay itself than it is to the story being told as part of the game, serving to draw out that level of narrative, perhaps helping to tie that level of narrative to that which ought to be simultaneously emerging from the gameplay.

    Which, to get back to the first point I threw out there (music:movies), sounds suspiciously similar to what you could say is going on with certain sorts of movie music, but replace ’emerging from gameplay’ with ’emerging from that scene’s performances’ and replace ‘story being told as part of the game’ with ‘narrative arc the movie audience is meant to be aware of while watching this tiny performance moment,’ helping make clear in a movie that, for example, an otherwise innocuous little gesture is in fact significant given the larger-scale narrative elements at play.

    But I’m just sketching things out here. And rambling.


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