Game design and development students at Rochester Institute of Technology were honored for their writing and analysis skills in the Student Narrative Analysis Competition at the 2013 Game Developers Conference.
Doug Lynn, a game design and development master’s student from Oswego, N.Y.; Evan Miller, a third-year game design and development student from Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; and Aaron Russell, a second-year game design and development student from Saratoga Springs, N.Y., were challenged to conduct a detailed structured analysis of the narrative elements of a video game title of their choice. Miller and Russell each won Gold awards, receiving a free expo pass, while Lynn became RIT’s first-ever Platinum award winner, receiving an all-access pass to the 2013 conference.
“Whether or not interactive story telling is a driving force in a game, really depends on the type of game,” says Russell. “For example, you don’t need very extensive narratives to play a game like Tetris, but for The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time the story is very important.”
Papers were submitted to the GDC Game Narrative Summit advisers for review and the most promising entries were then invited to create and present posters at the GDC. Students explored everything from the most popular games with no formal narrative to highly praised indie games renowned for their storytelling.
“I analyzed Metroid Prime and its use of a world-based narrative system,” says Lynn. “The game used the layout of the environment and a tremendous amount of contextual clues to develop a deep and involving game world and subsequent narrative.”
The review allows students to use both the left and right sides of their brains to identify highlights of the game, what makes the story unique and a breakdown of how characters and narrative fit together.
“It’s a great competition that gets people to think more critically about the narrative of games and how to game with a purpose,” says Miller. “I hope to go back next year and win Platinum.”