College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
BA (Bachelor of Arts)
Session and Year of Graduation
Honors Major Advisor
Videogames as an artistic medium have made incredible strides in the last ten years. With the inclusion of quick time events, decision-driven gameplay, and more recently, the production of virtual reality consoles, developers have sought to integrate narrative and gameplay in ways that were previously unexplored. Despite this, the idea of narrative being “nice, but not necessary,” has prevailed in the videogame community since the popularization of gaming in the 1970s. This thesis argues for an approach that analyzes narrative and gameplay equally, termed “ludonarrative,” and examines the function of narrative in videogames, particularly those in the horror genre. Part One will examine the prevailing fields of videogame study and propose another method for analyzing games. It will also argue for a new way of discussing the relationship between gameplay and narrative, while deconstructing Gonzola Frasca’s model of simulation and determining what the essence of narrative is in a videogame. The primary goal of this section is to restructure the argument between ludologists and narratologists, gameplay and narrative. Part Two explore the ways in which the player creates and interacts with narrative through choice, consequence, and rewards, while observing the way in which the developers create the narrative in a way that allows it to be manipulated by the players. The videogames analyzed will be those that have positively affected the videogame community through their combined ingenuity of gameplay and narrative, namely Limbo, Soma, Resident Evil 7, Amnesia, Undertale, Until Dawn, The Last of Us, Silent Hill PT, Five Nights at Freddy’s, and Loved. Part Two will also offer a psychoanalytic analysis of horror game narrative in relation to the player, through the concept of parallelism. This section will combine theories from Freud’s The Uncanny and Carl Young’s “Shadow,” as well as videogame critics James Portnow and John Bain. The primary goal of this section is to address the unique nature of the narrative in horror games, as opposed to other games, and the double consciousness of the players who engage in them. It is the goal of this thesis to encourage publishers, developers, and the gaming industry as a whole to consider narrative designers as something more than “nice.” Narrative is an integral part of every game, especially horror games, and dismissing its importance will limit the videogame medium from reaching its full artistic potential.
Jey Moriconi, horror game narrative, videogame narrative, narrative, videogame, game
Copyright © 2017 Jey Moriconi