Story beats in videogames as value-driven choice-based unit operations

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Michał Mochocki
Raine Koskimaa


We present a framework of story beats, defined as microunits of dramatic action, as a tool for the ludonarrative analysis of videogames. First, we explain the Goal - Action - Reaction - Outcome model of the story beat. Then, we present six types of story beats, Action, Interaction, Inaction, Mental, Emotion, and Sensory, providing videogame examples for each category. In the second half of the paper, we contextualise this framework in the classic game studies theory of videogame narrative and player action: unit operations, gamic action, anatomy of choice, and game design patterns, wrapping it up in the most recent trends in cognitive narratology. Ultimately, we present the story beat as a ludonarrative unit, working simultaneously as a ‘unit operation’ in the study of games as systems, and as a microunit of character action in narrative analysis. The conclusion outlines prospective directions for using story beats in formal, experiential, and cultural game research.


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Mochocki, M., & Koskimaa, R. (2021). Story beats in videogames as value-driven choice-based unit operations. Images. The International Journal of European Film, Performing Arts and Audiovisual Communication, 29(38), 5-31.
The Structure of Video Games
Biogramy autorów

Michał Mochocki, Department of Anglophone Literatures Kazimierz Wielki University in Bydgoszcz, Poland

Michał Mochocki – dr, adiunkt w Katedrze Literatur Anglojęzycznych na Uniwersytecie Kazimierza Wielkiego w Bydgoszczy. Jego główne zainteresowania badawcze to gry fabularne, którymi zajmuje się w ujęciu narratologii i studiów nad dziedzictwem kulturowym. Jest współzałożycielem Polskiego TowarzystwaBadania Gier, recenzentem „Homo Ludens”, członkiem rady akademickiej Game Industry Conference. Ostatnio opublikował monografię Role-Play as a Heritage Practice: Historical Larp, Tabletop RPG and Reenactment (2021). ORCID 0000-0001-5679-9219.

Raine Koskimaa, Centre of Excellence in Game Culture Studies University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Raine Koskimaa – profesor współczesnych studiów kulturowych na Uniwersytecie Jyväskylä w Finlandii. Prowadzi badania w obszarach tekstów cyfrowych, programowalnych mediów oraz groznawstwa. Publikował wiele na temat literatury cyfrowej, game studies i narratologii. Jest współzałożycielem i redaktorem „The Cybertext Yearbook”, członkiem Rady Literaturoznawczej przy Electronic Literature Organization i recenzentem Game Studies. ORCID 0000-0002-1492-4074.


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