Narrativism is one of the four lenses of game making, and is the school of thought that prefers experient, role-driven designs. It is about using a game to impart a storied experience in which the player takes an active role and develops sympathy toward its outcomes. Narrativism is inspired by literature, cinema, theatre and other narrative arts, and places videogames as an inheritor of those forms.
Moderately narrativist games combine mildly emergent gameplay and opportunities for discovery with outcomes that are fairy predictable. The result is storysense. Strongly narrativist games move away from storysense into storytelling, attempting to characterise the player and limiting emergence in favour of experience. They often become opaque or are easily mastered, leading to unintended boredom. At their most extreme, narrativist projects abandon the idea of ‘game’ altogether and becomes a non-game, like a virtual promenade.
Possibly the biggest issue for narrativists is validation. They often consider themselves to be artists and aspire for their games to be taken as seriously as cinema on the global cultural stage. Some even believe that games will one day eclipse or eat all other forms of art and contrast interactive art as somehow ‘better’ than so-called passive art. Like all institutionalists, they are essentially looking to an art world to confer legitimacy upon them.