Vi segnalo due interessanti articoli (1–2) apparsi su Gamasutra…l’autore è Thomas Grip, game developer e cofondatore di Frictional Games, game factory indipendente scandinava.
I due pezzi offrono alcuni interessanti spunti di riflessione sul rapporto tra gaming e storytelling e sulle regole base da seguire per lo sviluppo di un buon interactive storytelling.
Il tema è già indagato da moltissimi post e paper accademici, ma gli articoli di Thomas Grip hanno il merito di approcciarsi al tema in maniera generale, ma al contempo concreta, risultando un ottima base di partenza per chi poi voglia ulteriormente approfondire l’argomento. Ciò detto, la prospettiva dalla quale vengono presentati gli argomenti è quella di un sviluppatore di videogame, e più specificamente di uno sviluppatore di videogiochi in cui l’aspetto narrativo abbia un rilievo notevole. In altri termini il focus degli articoli non riguarda videogiochi come Tetris…
Il primo articolo – Nailing Down Storytelling Terminology – si propone di fare un po’ di chiarezza terminologica, cercando di spiegare di cosa si parla quando si usano termini come story, storytelling, narrative, characters, narration, immersion…in un contesto di produzione videoludica. Riporto qui la definizione del termine Presence:
Closely related to immersion is “the sense of presence”. I think this is a great term for talking about the feeling of being inside a game’s world, as it basically means being present somewhere. Even though someone has never hear the term before, they can easily guess what it means, and it is harder to make false connections. This makes it a lot better to talk about presence than immersion when discussing the sense of being somewhere else…
So how to define “presence”? If we simply take it as “the feeling of present in a fictional place”, then it becomes hard to know exactly what to strive for. What does it really mean to feel more “present”? With immersion, we only talked about the focus; in that case it was just a matter of how much of the player’s attention is directed at the game. But “being more/less present” is either awfully close to the definition “immersion” or very fuzzy.
My suggestion for a definition is this:
How much how of the mental model (ie, what we use to predict and make plans) for the game overlap the with the game’s story. If we treat characters like real people then presence is strong; if we treat them like robots then presence is weak.
How much involuntary reflexes are triggered in accordance to the story aspects of an event. If the player makes a quick jerk when an objects is coming right at their face, then presence is strong. If the player does not shiver a bit when entering a cold environment, presence is low.
The stronger the game achieve the above criteria, the stronger sense of presence it has. By thinking about the relationship between the actual story and what is going on in the player’s head, we get a very clear idea of what presence really is. This makes discussions on this subject a lot easier and also makes it easier to set up goals for oneself. 
Nel secondo articolo – 5 Core Elements Of Interactive Storytelling – Thomas Grip propone cinque regole fondamentali per garantire una buona integrazione tra gaming e storytelling…Di seguito la regola relativa alla significatività diegetica dell’interazione garantita dal videogioco:
Interactions must make narrative sense
In order to claim that the player is immersed in a narrative, their actions must be somehow connected to the important happenings. The gameplay must not be of irrelevant, or even marginal, value to the story. There are two major reasons for this.
First, players must feel as though they are an active part of the story and not just an observer. If none of the important story moments include agency from the player, they become passive participants. If the gameplay is all about matching gems then it does not matter if players spends 99% of their time interacting; they are not part of any important happenings and their actions are thus irrelevant. Gameplay must be foundational to the narrative, not just a side activity while waiting for the next cutscene.
Second, players must be able to understand their role from their actions. If the player is supposed to be a detective, then this must be evident from the gameplay. A game that requires cutscenes or similar to explain the player’s part has failed to tell its story properly.