Arch play: applications of narrative theory in video game aesthetics
thesisposted on 23.05.2021, 09:57 authored by Evan Fradley-Pereira
As of 2015, the incumbent international eSports paradigm centers on genre-defining systems and games that were not initially designed for mass spectatorship. As a result, would-be fans are often confronted with a high-friction onboarding process verging on hostility. With global viewership estimated to reach over 238m unique annual viewers by 2017 (Superdata, 2015), leading developers have adapted the designs of new products to prioritize audiences as well as players. The most successful among them have capitalized off of the resulting spectator virality. Lacking is a high-level framework for evaluating games based on aesthetic composition and their resulting viability as a spectator experience. This paper offers critical evaluations of dominant and lesser-known gaming spectator experiences via in-depth analyses of their constituent design affordances relating to a combined, interdisciplinary aesthetic framework centered heavily around narrative-bias. It is asserted throughout that any viewing experience with certain aesthetic factors configured to prioritize a clear and approachable classical narrative design, when evaluated aesthetically, can be considered rich in quality. Conforming to this aesthetic standard also permits games the potential to enjoy mass popularity. This paper is intended to serve as a foundation for an interdisciplinary framework of best practices in video game design.