Game mechanics telling stories? An experiment

Kristian Hjaltason, Steffen Christophersen, Julian Togelius, Mark J. Nelson (2015). Game mechanics telling stories? An experiment. In Proceedings of the International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games.


We investigate the question of how game mechanics influence or produce narrative by way of empirical experiment. The experimental setup involves a game with reconfigurable game mechanics and minimal representational elements. 69 players played games with randomized game mechanics, and 16 players formed a control group playing with a fixed set of mechanics. All players were asked to describe the story of the game with minimal prompting, and these free-text answers were tagged. Associations between tags and mechanics were analyzed using correlation analysis and frequent pattern mining. It was found that the choice of mechanics significantly impact what stories players tell about the game but that most of the associations are relatively simple and straightforward.

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