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    Designing Dramatic Play: Story and Game Structure

    People and Computers XXIV Games are a Serious Business

    Proceedings of HCI 2010
    The 24th British HCI Group Annual Conference
    University of Abertay, Dundee, UK

    6 - 10 September 2010


    Ben Rolfe, Christian Martyn Jones and Helen Wallace


    Drama in games is created by the interplay of the narrative structure of story and the ludic structure of challenges. In this paper, we combine Csikszentmihalyi’s model of engagement and flow with Freytag’s pyramid, a model of narrative structure. Using this combination, we explore the dramatic structure of Halo: Combat Evolved, comparing ludic and narrative structures at each stage of the game. Based on our analysis, we recommend that game designers recognise the importance of psychological states beyond flow, and structure gameplay to lead the player on a journey through different states. In particular, we defend the idea of pushing the player out of their comfort zone early in the game to provide motivation and positive stress, and ending the game with challenges below the player’s level of expertise, to allow them to relax, reflect, and experience a sense of closure.


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