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Walter Benjamin on the Video Screen: Storytelling and Game Narratives

Department of Humanities, Illinois Institute of Technology, Siegel Hall, 3301 South Dearborn, Suite 218, Chicago, IL 60616, USA
Received: 29 June 2018 / Revised: 4 October 2018 / Accepted: 19 October 2018 / Published: 23 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Gaming and the Arts of Storytelling)
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Abstract

Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay, “The Storyteller” (2006) defines storytelling as a mode of communication that is defined in part by its ability to offer listeners “counsel”, or meaningful wisdom or advice. This article considers the earmarks of storytelling as defined by Benjamin and by contemporary writer Larry McMurtry and argues this type of narrative experience can be offered via interactive media and, in particular, video games. After identifying the key characteristics of storytelling as set forth by Benjamin, the article proposes and advocates for a set of key characteristics of video game storytelling. In doing so, the article argues that effective narrative immersion can offer what Benjamin calls counsel, or wisdom, by refusing to provide pat answers or neat conclusions and suggests these as strategies for game writers and developers who want to provide educational or transformative experiences. Throughout, the article invokes historic and contemporary video games, asking for careful consideration of the ways in which games focused on sometimes highly personal narratives rely on storytelling techniques that instruct and transform and that can provide a rich framework for the design and writing of narrative games. View Full-Text
Keywords: storytelling; narrative theory; empathy games; Walter Benjamin; interactive storytelling; transmedia; Larry McMurtry; video games storytelling; narrative theory; empathy games; Walter Benjamin; interactive storytelling; transmedia; Larry McMurtry; video games
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Kocurek, C.A. Walter Benjamin on the Video Screen: Storytelling and Game Narratives. Arts 2018, 7, 69.

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