Silent Hill: Cinematic Gameplay & Storytelling

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.

Kirkland, E. (2005). Restless Dreams in Silent Hill: Approaches to Video Game Analysis. Journal of Media Practice, 6(3), 167-178.

Kirkland tries to balance the ludology and narratology view points when analyzing Silent Hill. Both have merit and add to our understanding.

Ludology focuses on gaming qualities, videogames are games and simulations first and foremost. They are interactive, rule-based systems.

Some game, like Silent Hill, are focused within traditional storytelling and narrative worlds. Sections of gameplay are limited both in control and camera so a player experiences the story in a specific way. The designer makes a deliberate choice in how the scene should play out. Silent Hill also incorporates transmedia storytelling with additional novels, comics, fan art, and fan fiction. The game is a self contained story, but these additions add value and an investment into the larger world. Professional and fan fiction help create a deeper engagement from the player and a richer experience of the game’s narrative.

Silent Hill incorporates traditional media element like location, camera movement, mise-en-scene, sound effects, and score to tell the story and create an experience around the narrative. While Silent Hill contains these traditional narrative element there are other embedded elements that a player experiences and creates in the story through gameplay. Most of key element are contained within the controlled narrative, the exploration gameplay expand the story and reward the player by opening up additional story lines.

Barry Atkins in 2003 used the term “game fictions” for videogames where the player is both the storyteller and the reader. Players are creating the story through their gameplay. While the key narrative elements may remain static, the experience and gameplay are unique to each play through. Thus, creating new experiences each time.

Creating tension in a game often requires restricting the narrative and exploration.

Image from ToTheGame


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