As academics and journalists increasingly join the public at large for deriding/ outright laughing at the phrase ‘ludonarrative dissonance’, I believe that while the phrase may have become overused that it is still a valuable tool when discussing games as a medium. This article is in response to a recent Errant Signal episode “The Debate that Never Happened.” In it Christopher Franklin explains the history of games writing from an academic standpoint and eventually admits that the term (while popular a couple years ago) is largely seen as silly. My argument here isn’t that he’s flat out wrong, rather he misses an important aspect of the term’s use. As silly as the term may sound, I do believe we need a framework to critique games whose narrative is dependent on their mechanics, and ‘ludonarrative dissonance/ cohesion’ is vital to that understanding.
While I ponder what I want to wax poetically on and analyze next, Campster’s ‘Errant Signal’ series on YouTube put up a video on Saints Row IV and ‘kitsch’. Specifically exploring how the game looks back on populist, mass produced media and explores what about them people love and why. It’s a good natured discussion on a good natured game, and a reminder of why I wanted to make a website like this in the first place. So much so that I wanted to link it here. If you want to support Errant Signal, here’s its Patreon link. I’ve been following the series for some time now and there’s some great stuff there. I particularly like his videos on Politics in Games, and Doom.