Franklin, Chris. The Debate That Never Took Place. YouTube, Errant Signal, 30 Jan. 2015, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBN3R0m31bA. Accessed 2 Nov. 2022.

This video by Chris Franklin owner of the YouTube page Errant Signal provides a brief history of video game criticism particularly on the debate, or nondebate as he puts it, between ludology and narratology in video games. The study of storytelling falls under various fields of study and thus, narratology combines these elements into a single study. Similarly, ludology had been coined by senior video game developer Gonzalo Frasca, “We will propose the term ludology (from ludis, the Latin word for ‘game’), to refer to the yet non-existent ‘discipline that studies game and play activities’. Just like narratology, ludology should also be independent from the medium that supports the activity.” But at some point ludology and narratology were misinterpreted to be at odds with each other and there seems to have been a pseudo debate ever since. This misunderstanding seems to stem from the idea that looking at games as a system opposes the idea of looking at games as a story or that they must be at harmony with each other for a game to be proper. Despite this being long debunked, the fall out from it still remained and critiques, reviewers and even players had gotten into the habit of distinguishing between gameplay and narrative when judging games. Franklin also references Clint Hockings original blog post about BioShock, which brought the term ‘Ludonarrative dissonance’ into public use, saying how it has been reduced to a joke term due to its continued misuse and overuse. He states looking at a game’s system and its story separately is unfair and unjustified, since we do not do so with any other medium, like films or books. He also states how this way of thinking has become increasingly prevalent, given terms like ludocentrism / ludofundamentalism have been coming up and are being used to talk about games that focus more on gameplay rather than story. Franklin states we do not compare the cinematography of a film and its narrative against each other when judging them and it should be the same for video games. He believes pitting story and gameplay in opposition to one another might actually be detrimental in the long term since games should not be defined or restricted by terms like these because afterall, video games are a medium of their own and should be allowed to grow and flourish in its own way.

Chris Franklin provides a well informed analysis about the history of this debate and provides a great perspective on the matter. I believe his title already says a lot, referencing how it is a debate that never took place but people still believe in. As Franklin says in the video we don’t compare the cinematography of a film and its narrative against each other and the same should also apply to video games, which I also believe is true. . Video games are a separate medium and we should not look at it the same way we look at other forms of media, since video games have the unique element of interactivity. Video games also do not yet have a very long history as a medium so limiting it to be defined by terms like this will ultimately not allow it to flourish, discouraging experimentation and creativity. The fact that not all games are not set out to accomplish the same goal also makes this a point of contention. Some games purely focus on being a good experience not really focusing on the story, while there are others games which play out more like a movie than a game, as well as all the other types in between. This video really got me thinking about my perspective on ludonarrative dissonance. While maintaining ludic and narrative harmony might be important for games that wish to tell a compelling and powerful narrative, not every game needs to follow this. Being too focused on merging gameplay and narrative together might ultimately make video games as a whole lose its identity.