Don't miss
  • 2,232
  • 6,844
  • 6097
  • 134

Social Reality: The (Very) Secret Ingredient of Narrative Design

By on April 3, 2009


See this article in full at

A biosuit augmented physicist, a medieval assassin brought to life by virtual reality, and a telekinetic commando… these are all protagonists from games (rightly) championed for their narratives – so why does it read like a list of fantasy careers by Tom, Age 6?

One week ago, I was brought in to discuss an Xbox 360 action adventure IP. It’s early doors – things are at the stage where plots and characters are being drawn up, tonal references agreed, target audiences researched… and a contract Narrative Designer put in place.

The development team had some fantastic reference material – media that either nailed the themes, or the atmosphere, or the gameplay they were looking to achieve. Pouring over it, I had just one question: why aren’t there any games here?

The short answer was they just felt more powerfully drawn to filmic conceits. It’s common enough – game narratives are in their infancy, so there’s often more mileage in cinematic comparisons than interactive ones.

The long answer, I think, is that they’d identified a gaping black hole in video game narratives (of which many there may be, but few quite so fundamental)…

…continued at

About Tom Jubert

Tom Jubert is a freelance games writer / narrative designer, best known for his work on the Penumbra series, for which he was nominated for a Writers' Guild Award. His upcoming releases include Lost Horizon and Driver: San Francisco. He was previously the Managing Editor at, and has also spent time in production.