Creating Suspense & Limiting Gameplay

Over the course of the coming week, I'll post my reflections and notes from my literature review in preparation for my upcoming conference. The posts during this week will be focused on how we can understand videogames as stories, how those stories are told, and what value those stories have in the lives of our students.

Frome, J. & Smuts, A. (2004). Helpless Spectators: Generating Suspense in Videogames and Film. TEXT Technology, 13(1), 13-34.

Suspense requires fear, hope and uncertainty. Games always contain a level of uncertainty as players play. But using that uncertainty for suspense often requires limiting the player’s control over events. There is a battle between cut scenes and game play for storytelling. Helplessness heightens suspense. The helplessness of a cut scene is not necessary for suspense, but it does make the communication of this emotion easier to convey.

Suspense cannot work without an emotional connection. Players/readers need to care about the characters and what happens next. Often putting the character in a situation where the unwanted event is more likely to happen than the wanted one. Other media invoke suspense by creating situations where the outcome looks bleak. Games can do the same with limiting a player’s abilities or increasing a boss’s health.

If games are most successful in creating suspense by limiting a players control, they become closer to traditional narratives when the author/creator has a story to tell.

Image from Gamespot


sports handicapping services said...

Super blog and nice to read.