OWL Magazine Korea

“Digital Game Storytelling: A New Paradigm in the Galaxy of Games” by Han Hye-won

As a fourth-year university student nearing graduation, I remember the time when I was applying for jobs by submitting my resume to various companies. Leveraging my past experience with games, I made serious efforts to apply to a gaming company called “Game Company.”

Although I submitted resumes to several game companies and even made it to the final interview at “CJ Games,” a subsidiary of “CJ E&M,” I didn’t manage to pass the final hurdle.


Even though it was the second semester of my fourth year, and I had already earned enough credits to graduate, I still took classes from other departments out of interest. Among the major courses at the “UX Academy,” I even took a class called “Interactive Storytelling Design” because of my interest in storytelling.

During this time, I came across a book about game storytelling, which naturally led me to explore it. Although the book was published in 2005 and seemed quite old when I first encountered it in 2012, I felt that its content about storytelling would still be relevant.

“Is a Game a Narrative?”

The book delves into the question, “Is a game a narrative?” It explores the differences between narrative styles in traditional literature, movies, and those found in games.

Various scholars’ definitions of games are discussed, all of which commonly consist of four elements: rules, outcomes, conflicts, and voluntariness.

“Is mere gameplay the only characteristic of a game? Is storytelling also a characteristic of a game?”

While discussing games, such questions arise. While older games like “Tetris” or “Pac-Man” may seem to lack storytelling elements, recent games often incorporate various stories and worldviews. Therefore, one might think that games need to encompass not only simple gameplay but also storytelling and world-building to survive in the future.

Of course, some view games more as “simulations” than narratives. In this case, the integration of rules, character reproduction, and laws of behavior based on rules are considered crucial elements.

“Characteristics of Narrative in Games”

Nevertheless, storytelling remains essential in future games. The narrative in games has evolved differently from narratives in novels or movies. The book outlines three characteristics of narratives found in games:

  1. Foundational Story
  2. Ideal Story
  3. Random Story

The foundational story is akin to those found in movies or animations, including opening sequences or cutscenes in games, following a traditional narrative structure.

The ideal story refers to episodic structures through quests, fostering an environment for player immersion. To enhance immersion, games can continuously extend endings.

The random story pertains to player-to-player narratives that can arise in multiplayer online games through interactions and actions.


Interactivity in games can be categorized into internal and external interactions based on the player’s position within the game.

  • Internal interaction: The player perceives themselves as a member within the game’s fictional world, progressing through the story from a first-person perspective.
  • External interaction: The player acts as a god-like figure outside the game’s fictional world.

Furthermore, based on the player’s influence on the story, interactions can be categorized as interpretive or creative.

  • Interpretive interaction allows players to navigate databases freely, but their actions do not affect the macroscopic plot and story.
  • Creative interaction results in plot and story changes based on the player’s navigation direction and choices.

Combining these types of interactions yields four combinations:

  1. External, interpretive interaction
  2. Internal, interpretive interaction
  3. External, creative interaction
  4. Internal, creative interaction

Each combination presents different gameplay experiences and narrative engagement levels.

“Protagonists and Antagonists in Game Narratives”

Game narratives often feature heroes as protagonists, following a 12-step pattern regardless of their divine nature. Antagonists, often depicted as villains, come in various forms:

  1. Demonic or monstrous forms
  2. Simon Effect: Beautiful villains depicted as evil
  3. Jekyll and Hyde forms
  4. Jojo Effect: Positioning of protagonists and antagonists based on the player’s perspective

These different antagonist types serve various narrative functions, enhancing the gameplay experience.

“How Game Narratives Differ from Traditional Narratives”

Ultimately, the book explores storytelling in games. However, games differ from other mediums such as novels, movies, or animations in narrative aspects.

While past games may have lacked narratives, modern games prioritize both technical and narrative aspects. In the gaming era, interactivity serves to engage players and evoke actions based on descriptive and narrative techniques.

Moreover, it’s challenging to find games without storytelling elements nowadays. Games like “Skyrim” and “StarCraft” have captivated audiences with their immersive narratives and rich worlds, proving the importance of storytelling in games.

In conclusion, although this book may have been published long ago, it effectively discusses the characteristics of “game storytelling” and its significance in the gaming industry.

“Digital Game Storytelling: A New Paradigm in the Galaxy of Games”