Creator’s Discussion of the Growing Focus on, and Potential of, Storytelling in Video Game Design


  • Mata Haggis NHTV University, Netherlands



video games, autobiographical, storytelling, game design, narrative design


The video game industry, by its wider reputation, is not commonly regarded for its deep and thoughtful experiences. In its common media presence it is represented as frequently dealing with content that is excessively violent and usually expressing themes and genres that are otherworldly: science-fiction, horror, or fantasy. However, the broad reputation of video games’ reputation is not wholly deserved, partly due to an arthouse-esque movement growing rapidly alongside the larger, traditional releases. In the last decade, and five years especially, there have been an increasing number of games which tell personal stories that are either inspired by life or that are autobiographical and that defy that broader reputation. These games are often highly concerned with creating vivid and believable characters, telling personal stories, or conveying emotional experiences using interaction to enhance the narrative. This article discusses some of the key titles in this area, the debates in video game culture surrounding them, and some of the choices made in the development of the author's own narrative game experience 'Fragments of Him'.


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Author Biography

  • Mata Haggis, NHTV University, Netherlands

    Assoicate Professor of Creative & Entertainment Games, NHTV University.


Amélie. Dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet. 2001. Film

Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. 1.0. Ubisoft. 2010. Video game.

Call of Duty. Activision. 2003–present. Video game series.

Dear Esther. 1.0. The Chinese Room. 2008 & 2012. Video game.

Façade. 1.0. Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern. 2005. Video game.

Fragments of Him. 1.0. Sassybot. 2016. Video game.

Gone Home. 1.0. The Fullbright Company. 2013-2016. Video game.

Grand Theft Auto. Rockstar Games. 2001-present. Video game series.

Heavy Rain. 1.0. Sony Computer Entertainment. 2010. Video game.

Hocking, Clint. “Ludonarrative Dissonance in Bioshock.” 07 October 2007. Click Nothing. 27 April 2016. Web.

Keogh, Brendan. Just Making Things And Being Alive About It: The Queer games scene. Polygon. Vox Media, 24 May 2013. Web. 8 January 2016.

LIM. 1.0. Kopas, Merritt. 2012. Video game.

MacDonald, Keza. “IGN Dear Esther Review.” Ziff Davies LLC. 13 February 2012. Web. 12 March 2016.

Mass Effect. Bioware. 2007-This War of Mine. 1.0. 11 bit studios. 2014. Video game.

Mateas, Michael and Andrew Stern. “Build It to Understand It: Ludology Meets Narratology in Game Design Space.” DiGRA '05 - Proceedings of the 2005 DiGRA International Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play. Vancouver: DiGRA, 2005. Print.

Memoir En Code. 1.0. Alex Camilleri. 2015. Video game.

Pan's Labyrinth. Dir. Guillermo del Toro. 2006. Film.

Sassybot. “Fragments of Him: Press Kit.” Fragments of Him. Sassybot, 20 June 2015. Web. 8 January 2016.

That Dragon, Cancer. 1.0. Numinous Games. 2016. Video game.

This War of Mine. 1.0. 11 bit studios. 2014. Video game.

Valiant Hearts: The Great War. 1.0. Ubisoft. 2014. Video game.





Creative Practice

How to Cite

Creator’s Discussion of the Growing Focus on, and Potential of, Storytelling in Video Game Design. (2016). Persona Studies, 2(1), 20-25.