Authored by: Mark J. P. Wolf

The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415533324
eBook ISBN: 9780203114261
Adobe ISBN: 9781136290510


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Like novels, narrative films, and television shows, many video games can be said to have a diegetic world, that is, an imaginary or fictional world in which game events take place, and where the game’s characters live and exist (“world” is used here in an experiential sense). Usually such worlds are made in support of a narrative, though worlds do not necessarily have to contain stories, and not all of them do. Video games such as those of the Sim series (Maxis Software/The Sims Studio, 1989–present) and other sandbox games allow players to build imaginary worlds, within certain limitations and restrictions, but there is no predetermined narrative that occurs there, though the player’s experiences and interaction within the world may constitute something like a narrative. The world and its design often is closely connected with the design of the game, since exploring the world (navigation) and learning how the world works (including everything from its machinery to its ontological rules and its physics, which can differ from the actual world) are both often a substantial part of what occurs during gameplay, and part of a game’s objectives and goals.

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