I’m cleaning out some old webpage on this site, and instead of deleting them or making them individual pages, I thought I’d post them here for posterity. And here’s one now!
Dramatic Theory and Video Games
Dramatic theory is hard to research. There seems to be very little material readily available. As a result, distilling dramatic theory down to a single
Good drama results from a certain pattern in the number of unanswered questions in existence in a work over time. In a very short work, that pattern is a simple peak: the number of unanswered questions rises over time until the climax near the end, and then drops back down to zero. Normally, however, that same pattern is maintained in general, but is supplemented by one level of recursion: small patterns of peaks within the larger pattern.
The funny part of that theorem — which is hardly “
Fair enough. Now, let’s apply this theorem to video games, particularly
What makes for a satisfying video game? Ignoring the overall trend towards a larger climax, satisfaction comes from a pattern of peaks and valleys in the player’s experience. The player should be “scared” for awhile, then
In a simple
Note, importantly, that this does not imply X minutes fighting monsters, followed by exactly X minutes not fighting monsters, etc. There will be a significant period in which the player will finish up fighting the current set of monsters, and clear out any other monsters nearby. Similarly, just because monsters are being generated nearby, does not necessarily mean that the player is immediately fighting them.
Obviously, this is a