Game Development Reference
first-person shooters or sports games rarely support such rich emergent
stories because they usually show too much for this kind of apophenia to
Games can emphasize emergent stories by keeping records of game events
to remind players of what happened to them. This way, the player doesn't
have to remember everything that happened to construct a story in his
mind—it's all laid out in front of him.
Civilization IV : This game secretly records the borders of each nation
at the end of every turn. When the game finally ends, the player gets to
watch a time-lapsed world map of shifting political boundaries from pre-
history to the end of the game. It's fascinating to watch the empires start
out as isolated dots, grow to cover entire regions, and thrash back and
forth over centuries of war. As the map retells world history, it reminds the
player of the challenges he faced and victories he won.
Myth : This classic tactics game tracks battles between small groups
of 10 to 100 fantasy warriors. In most games, corpses vanish soon after
death. But Myth leaves every dead body, hacked-off limb, arrow, abandoned
explosive charge, bomb scorch, and spray of blood on the ground where it
fell. After a battle, the player can read patterns in the blood and bodies, and
reconstruct the events that produced them. A line of corpses in a corner
surrounded by many more dead zombies indicates a desperate last stand.
A bomb's scorch mark surrounded by a star of gore is someone being
blown into pieces. It is emergent mise-en-scène. And even though the
player likely already saw it all happen, it's still interesting to see it etched
into the ground in blood and burns.
The Sims : Players can take pictures of their simulated family and
string them together into albums with captions. Usually, the albums tell
stories. The best of these are made into blogs like Alice and Kev , the story of
a mentally unbalanced single father and his big-hearted teenage daughter
as they deal with poverty, rejection, and relationship breakdown. It's heart-
breaking to watch young Alice give her last dollar to charity even though
she sleeps on a park bench.
Sports can be confusing, especially for the uninitiated. Show 20 men on
a field running and bashing into one another and it can be hard to under-
stand what's going on. A sportscaster adds context to the chaos of play and
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