Gloss on Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String

Gloss on Games, Storytelling, and Breaking the String

Costikyan’s contention that some games aren’t enhanced by the addition of story relies on the difference between play and narrative. In other words games don’t necessarily require stories. Walter Benn Michaels, in The Shape of the Signifier, argues that games also don’t rely on the subject position of the players, or on their beliefs: “In chess, for example, the person playing white doesn’t think the person playing black is mistaken; the conflict between them is not about who is right but about who will win: what matters in a game is not what you believe to be true but which side you’re on” (32). Michaels’s claim becomes thorny, however, in a discussion of role-playing games in which the subject positions of the players and characters are, at least in part, the object of the game, and the game itself consists of what the players believe.

Publication date: 
2008-01-04
Author name: 
Ben Underwood: