Game Development Reference
throwing things at them. Kinesis is a good, elegant game mechanic even
without any narrative tie-in.
But leaving Kinesis as a pure game mechanic would mean ignoring
the role of the technology in the narrative world. If that device really ex-
isted in the broader world of Dead Space 2 , what would that mean? What
connections would it have with the culture, economy, and construction of
the place? Instead of ignoring this question, Visceral Games' designers
embraced it and embedded many of the answers into the world narrative.
Isaac first gets Kinesis by ripping it out of a device used for suspending pa-
tients during surgery. He encounters advertisements for a product which
uses the Kinesis technology to suspend people as they sleep. He interacts
with engineering systems which are covered in markings and warnings
about Kinesis work, implying that Kinesis is a common tool among people
working with heavy machinery. The elegance of Kinesis isn't just in the
many ways it can be used in combat, exploration, and puzzle solving. It's
also in the number of links it forms in the narrative world.
During any play session, game mechanics, players, and chance come to-
gether to create an original sequence of related events which constitute an
emergent story .
EMERGENT STORY is story that is generated during play by the
interaction of game mechanics and players.
When you play a racing game against a friend and come back to win
after a bad crash, that's a story. But it wasn't written by the game de-
signer—it emerged during your particular play session. This is emergent
We can look at emergent story in two ways: as a narrative tool, and as
a technology for generating story content.
Emergent story is a narrative tool because designers indirectly author
a game's emergent stories when they design game mechanics. For exam-
ple, players of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood have experienced millions of
unique emergent stories about medieval battles, daring assassinations, and
harrowing rooftop escapes. But none of these players has ever experienced
the story of a medieval assassin brushing his teeth in the morning. Tooth
brushing isn't a game mechanic in Brotherhood , so stories about it cannot
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