Narrare, from the Latin word for “to narrate”, is a Twine game designed to teach narrative concepts and theory as they pertain to games. Players are challenged to make their way through the game’s narrative, making important choices and facing limitations along the way. Narrare uses a story that draws heavily on traditional mythology and fairy tales, but that also makes allusions to popular and gaming cultures. As such, many of its elements will be familiar to players of all experience levels. As a Twine game, Narrare is also open for continued refinement and expansion. Its current form is really more of a first glimpse, and much more is to come!
Narrare is very much a teaching tool as much as it is a game, and it has been designed for easy use both in and outside the classroom. As an online game, it can be assigned to students as part of their homework and preparation for class. The narrative theory and concepts in Narrare are best understood through discussion however, so the game can also be used to center and promote such discussion in class.
Need for Game:
Amidst the proliferation of discourse on games–digital and otherwise–in recent years, there has been a noticeable shift toward understanding how, where, and why games convey meaning to their players. To be more specific, game scholars, critics, and developers have begun to realize the vital importance of narrative in games, and how our concepts of narrative alter within the oft-referenced magic circles of play. Several recent books, including Tamer Thabet’s Video Game Narrative and Criticism: Playing the Story (2015) and Koenitz et. al’s Interactive Digital Narrative: History, Theory and Practice (2015), bear witness to the need for theoretical frameworks and methodologies for the study of narrative in games.
Narrare is part of an answer to this call. As a crucial element of course discussion and teaching on game narrative, Narrare helps move collective understanding of game narrative beyond the buzzwords such as “interactive” and “emergent” that currently entrap it. It is only fitting that Narrare be a game in order to accomplish this, as it reminds students and players that game narrative is not just an abstract theoretical concept, but rather is part of the real, living experience of games. What better way to understand game narrative than to play a game?
Narrare has a number of serious goals that it accomplishes through a mixture of play and discussion (some of these goals are best reached through class discussion and instructor guidance alongside the game).
- Develop understanding of narrative concepts, including:
- Meaningful Choice
- Branching Narrative
- Narrative Expression
- Limits of narrative and choice
- Identify traditions of mythology and fairy tales, along with their uses and meanings
- Demonstrate and relate to readings in game and narrative theory (to be done throughout course)
The target audience for Narrare is primarily the students in Cody’s Integrative Studes in Arts and Humanities (IAH) and English courses at Michigan State University, consisting mostly of undergraduate students. The concepts taught in and through Narrare are especially pertinent for those working in game development and game studies, but they are also useful for general consumers and fans of games. The game is both assigned as homework outside of class and also played and discussed in class.
As a Twine game, Narrare’s gameplay is very simple. Gameplay consists of reading the narrative provided and choosing between a number of options, all of which are highlighted a different color from regular text. Clicking on an option will take you to a new part of the narrative and present you with new choices. At any point during play a player can hit the Undo/Redo buttons on the left side of the window to navigate between parts of the narrative they have already visited.
That’s it! Pretty simple, huh?