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Title: Non-determinism in the narrative structure of video games
Authors: Picucci, Marcello Arnaldo
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: At the present time, computer games represent a finite interactive system. Even in their more experimental forms, the number of possible interactions between player and NPCs (non-player characters) and among NPCs and the game world has a finite number and is led by a deterministic system in which events can therefore be predicted. This implies that the story itself, seen as the series of events that will unfold during gameplay, is a closed system that can be predicted a priori. This study looks beyond this limitation, and identifies the elements needed for the emergence of a non-finite, emergent narrative structure. Two major contributions are offered through this research. The first contribution comes in the form of a clear categorization of the narrative structures embracing all video game production since the inception of the medium. In order to look for ways to generate a non-deterministic narrative in games, it is necessary to first gain a clear understanding of the current narrative structures implemented and how their impact on users’ experiencing of the story. While many studies have observed the storytelling aspect, no attempt has been made to systematically distinguish among the different ways designers decide how stories are told in games. The second contribution is guided by the following research question: Is it possible to incorporate non-determinism into the narrative structure of computer games? The hypothesis offered is that non-determinism can be incorporated by means of nonlinear dynamical systems in general and Cellular Automata in particular.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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