Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rubric, Defined/Refined

In my paper I detailed my rubric, citing four aspects that define a good narrative choice system. Here I'll explore the rubric in greater detail.

Each game starts at 0 points in each of the categories listed below. For every strong or reinforcing element that the narrative choice system showcases, it gains a point. For every bad, broken, or contradictory element, it loses a point. Systems that have negative points are clearly detracting from the games they're a part of, while systems that have positive points are clearly either defining or enhancing the games they're a part of and systems with close to zero points aren't adding or detracting anything and are therefore superfluous with respect to the category at hand. The potential problem with this scale is that there could be a system that performs really well in one aspect under a specific category but fails miserably at all the others; as such the different aspects that gain or detract points must be recorded for careful subjective evaluation.

Narrative Integrity

This refers to a narrative choice system's ability to tell a good story. Factors at play here include:
  • Character growth and development.
  • Reinforcement of the game's themes/motifs.
  • Dramatic tension.
  • Narrative Pacing.
  • Narrative Consistency.

Gameplay Integrity

This refers to a narrative choice system's involvement as a game mechanic. Factors at play here include:
  • Balance; whether or not the narrative choice system imposes itself in favor of one play style or another.
  • Imposition; the opposite--whether or not the gameplay makes narrative decisions for the player.


This refers to a narrative choice system's ability to satisfy psychological elements of the human decision-making process; IE, maintain interest through creating realistic dilemmas and choices. Factors at play here include:
  • System's ability to generate consequence and remind players of past choices.
  • System's ability to manifest risk using one or more of the following: ambiguous preferences, multiple actors, or limited knowledge.
  • System's manifestation of identity mechanisms (Experiential Learning, Categorization, Recency, Social Context of Others) to enforce player's identity.
  • System's use of identity influences (modeling, cues, experience) to give players tools to piece together their identity.


This refers to the player's satisfaction in the narrative choice system's ability to allow them to personalize their experience; how unique a given playthrough is from the player's perspective, and how much they feel like their involvement made a difference. Factors at play here include:
  • Impact of decisions on player's perception of either their own character, the game's themes, or the narrative as a whole.
  • Player's ability to define and maintain one or more identities for themselves within the game world.
  • Player's ability to define relationships with other characters within the game world.

Supporting Factors

This refers to additional support from outside sources such as reviews, articles, and metascore, which don't necessarily refer to a single one of the above categories but nevertheless provide some grounding. Factors that will be consistently referenced here include:
  • Metascore; 70+ = 1 point, 80+ = 2 points, 90+ = 3 points.
  • Review feedback from 4 major reviews (IGN, Gamespot, GameInformer, Edge) and 4 minor reviews (The Escapist, Kotaku, GameCritics, Destructoid). These reviews will be evaluated for content rather than score, the specific aim being to identify consistencies in the reviewers' remarks on the narrative choice element specifically.

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