A post by Brainy Gamer Michael Abbott recently pointed out a key difference between a videogames’ story and its narrative. Abbott recalled a keynote given by Rich Lemarchand of Naughty Dog at IndieCade.
“I play Minecraft narratively,” [Lemarchand] said, seeing the game as a kind of “Lego I Am Legend.”
He also referenced Kent Hudson’s recent talk at GDC 2011 on player-driven stories, noting that agency within a game world can occur from top to bottom, throughout every element of design. “Minecraft expresses this perfectly,” and it does so entirely through its systems. A major part of Minecraft’s pleasure, for Lemarchand, is the player creating beauty and wonder through his own efforts. “It’s systemic Theater,” he observed. “Minecraft isn’t a story, but I made it one.”
Lemarchand’s view encourages a holistic approach, in which the gameplay and the story and the art combine to create an experience that resonates with us, rather than the customary disjointed approach where, as in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the story and play are soldered together like a cyborg on the operation table.