Contextual Poetry and Narrative Tradition by Devin Mens

The form of a story is a key factor in the total expression of its narrative without resorting to the explicitness that is typically expected as the means through which this is done. As it pertains to video-games and other related mediums, these explicit forms of progression are typically expressed via dialogue, cut-scenes or set-pieces (Polansky).  Current video-games, such as Max Payne 3 or the Metal Gear Solid series best represent the use of cut-scenes and primary dialogue, while games such as those found in the Call of Duty franchise place a large emphasis on heavily scripted set-piece scenarios that at their most basic level can be reduced to somewhat interactive cut-scenes that does not provide much or any latitude in how the player may alter the outcome of the current chapter of the story(Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2). However, as with most other forms of narrative, it is those aspects that surround these focal points that provide a true sense of the plot. As defined in Mrs.Polansky’s article, it is these “environmental” queues that allows for most games to progress beyond the complexity found in a game of “Clue” (Polansky). This is best explained with a scene from a movie, in this case the 6th episode of the “Star Wars” series, “The Return of the Jedi.” This movie contains a scene in which the main protagonist, Luke Skywalker, is engaged in a duel with one of the primary antagonists, Darth Vader. Taken as a simple cut-scene, in that there is no interaction with the viewers, this scene does not advance the plot in any significant manner. However, when we add in the context surrounding this scene, the scene becomes a fight for the redemption of a man’s father. However it should be noted though that these “secondary” narrative elements can at times be applied in a pseudo-primary manner, with the various “* Souls” games, which include on a minimum of explicit narration or exposition apart from a smattering of cut-scenes at key milestones such as the beginning and end points of the game(Demon’s Souls). However, the vast majority of the plot and lore behind the encompassing world and the various key figures is only encountered via text and dialogue lines that most people would consider quasi-secrets (Demon’s Souls). This reaches the point that the player’s grasp of the narrative without these hidden contextual pieces approaches the lack of detail that is described above regarding the Star Wars scene if it occurred in a vacuum. Without these elements that define the “designed space” that surrounds the game, the overall experience is found severely lacking. The entirety of human experience is predicated upon context and the intuition that it provides a person to allow to properly navigate a world that exists somewhere between strict black and white definitions. To exist without the use of intuition shuts a person off from the greater world and is typically associated with people suffering from diagnoses along the autism spectrum. Artistic works requires the use of their designed space to allow for these intuitive leaps, without them the audience would flounder in a grey sea of meaninglessness and would experience the piece as merely a sequence of procedural tasks with no intrinsic meaning or value.


Polansky, Lana. “The Poetry of Created Space | Bit Creature.” The Poetry of Created Space | Bit Creature. 3 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <;.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.Kojima Productions.2008. Video Game

Demon’s Souls. From Software.2009.Video Game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.Infinity Ward.2009.Video Game


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