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.
I was browsing through some files and found a few articles that I had written but never published, all on game design. I do think that understanding Ludonarrative Design is important, especially as the ‘gaming’ (I hate that term, but we have no catchier name yet) medium evolves. ‘Ludonarrative’ is a term that entered the medium’s common nomenclature around 2012, and likely if you have any interest in games you’ve heard it. If you’re not quite sure what it means, or why it’s significant, here’s a primer/ crash course. Besides, I like writing about this stuff, and it’s on media so fuck it, why not?