VIDEOGAMES, THEIR TEXTUAL OBJECTS, AND THE IMPORTANCE OF A MULTI-MODAL NARRATIVE
This paper was developed from my reflections on an interdisciplinary critical making experiment in which I, visual artists, and computer programmers wrote, designed, and made a videogame, entitled Anathema, and a "Complete Companion" for the game that served as its booklet. I argue for the importance and continuing relevance of booklets and other textual objects accompanying videogames as there is no established scholarship on the topic and no ongoing debate or dialogue on the issue within the field of game studies. I demonstrate the ways that multiple modes of media, i.e. the game and its external objects, allow the narrative to break free of the individual media's constraints and overcome the perceived binary between mechanics-oriented and narrative-oriented videogames. I examine the evolution of booklets' roles in videogames by looking at key examples from early, millennial, and contemporary examples, including F-Zero, Diablo II, and the Mass Effect series. I also compare examples across genres, markets, and distribution methods, including independently produced and digitally distributed games. Finally, I draw on my own work on Anathema, the relationship between form and content within that project, and the role of the booklet therein to demonstrate the narrative and mechanical advantages of a multi-modal videogame. I conclude that while innovative mechanics can contribute to a multi-modal narrative in-game, the incorporation of both analogue and digital textual objects facilitates a more complete interaction with the art form.
videogame, textual object, ludology, narratology, booklet, narrative, game theory
Master of Arts (M.A.)