There have been misunderstandings regarding “narrative” in relation to games, in part due to the lack of a shared understanding of “narrative” and related terms. Instead, many contrasting perspectives exist, and this state of affairs is an impediment for current and future research. To address this challenge, this article moves beyond contrasting definitions, and based on a meta-analysis of foundational publications in game studies and related fields, introduces a two-dimensional mapping along the dimensions of media specificity and user agency. Media specificity describes to what extent medium affects narrative, and user agency concerns how much impact a user has on a narrative. This mapping is a way to visualize different ontological positions on “narrative” in the context of game narrative and other interactive narrative forms. This instrument can represent diverse positions simultaneously, and enables comparison between different perspectives, based on their distance from each other and alignment with the axes. A number of insights from the mapping are discussed that demonstrate the potential for this process as a basis for an improved discourse on the topic.
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