Telling Video Game Narrative through Ambient Sounds

1

October 11, 2012 by sczaja200

Here’s an interesting article I just read on Kotaku. In it Austin Grossman, one of the writers/designers of the recently released Dishonored, discusses his ideas on video game narrative.

The whole article is interesting, but what I found most intriguing were his comments in the last two paragraphs about telling a game’s story through ambient sounds. He thinks that the narrative a player is forced to sit through should be short and unobtrusive to gameplay, while more detailed story-related dialogue from NPCs (non-player characters) should come in the form of ambient sounds so that a player can listen to the story while he or she is waiting for crucial moments to happen; for instance, in a stealth game, while the player is waiting for a guard to walk by.

http://kotaku.com/5950999/in-dishonored-sometimes-the-story-is-what-you-dont-see?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

-Stephen

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One thought on “Telling Video Game Narrative through Ambient Sounds

  1. Ryan Thames says:

    Interesting article. I think ambient sound/voice is an excellent way to reveal narrative in a game like Dishonored. The latest Deus Ex game is the same way. These games are less about developing who a character is and more about acting in a world while simultaneously learning things about the diegesis. However, I don’t think it’s right to say this is what all games should do in order to be fun.

    The average Bioware game like Mass Effect or Dragon Age is almost more about fleshing out who the character is than it is about the diegetic world and the plot of the game. These are things that serve to hone the character as much or more than the character is a means to move through them. In those games, dialogue is key, since tone and word choice can potentially reveal more nuance to a character than action alone (action reveals what a character is capable of, but not the underlying personality or reasoning behind that).

    (going to comment with my facebook account right now since I don’t have time to look up my password for this thing)

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