Week 3-Games Telling stories

Every day the Same Dream (Molleindustria 2009)

In Jesper Juul’s “Games telling stories- A brief note on games and narrative”, the framing argument is exploring games as narrative. Juul’s makes 3 arguments; 1) that we use narrative for everything. 2) Most games feature narrative. 3) Games share some traits with narrative. Now with this in mind, most of the game we play have a narrative story-line or somewhat a background story, some more in depth than others while some are pretty straight forward and simple. This is to give the player and their set character or chosen character a game play standing, “placing the player” in the game. This aids to situate the player for a better understanding.

Yet not all games require or utilize this back-drop narrative frame for their audience, for example in Tetris (Alexey Pajitnov 1984) there is no real need to have to situate the player because the given intro/instructions are pretty straightforward and there is no in-game representation of the player thus placing yourself against the computer. Moreover in Everyday the same Dream, we not given a back drop story or intro only key navigation instructions which are; Click to start, arrows + space bar to play, then it gets straight into the game with no more information. The player navigates around this monochrome world, the life (routine~dream) of the faceless man you are controlling, the fact he does not have a face also makes him a bit more relatable because in Juul’s words “we need a human actant to identify with.” Thus the player is always present. As you begin to play, the subtle narrative story of what you “should” be doing unfolds, becoming “your everyday the same dream” routine. With no real end goal other than going to work or not it becomes clear that the goal is to find an escape to this routine. Although there are different paths (figuratively) you can take, its pretty linear in the sense that you are limited to special movement and what you can attain or who you can contact (wife, elevator lady, cow, leaf) but you always begin the same way and in the same place; the ending differs from players choice but always returning to the same spot until you reach the end of the game which is the “goal”. In my experience playing the game on my second try I went past my cubicle and to the roof and jumped off, taking a bit of a dark turn I realized that was the escape to the routine…death. Yet you return back to “dream” so what’s the point? I kept on playing to see if the narrative would change. Not until the fifth try which the elevator lady hints at multiple times (in earlier tries) by saying “1 more step and you will be a new person”, you go to the roof you watch yourself jump of the building and that marks the end of the game.

In conclusion, Juul mentions the idea that games rely on having goals that can be deciphered by the player and that narratives are basically interpretative. In saying that, in “Everyday the Same Dream”, you’re able to explain the game story as well as experience cut-scenes that aid the narrative sequence, like when they grab the orange leaf or when they have a “moment” petting the cow. Thus we the player take the role of the character and navigate through the narrative dream world exploring the development of the goal.

 

Juul, Jesper. “Games telling stories.” Game studies 1.1 (2001): 45.

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