Rinse and repeat: The ergodic influence of narrative within Walking Simulators
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The emergence of Walking Simulators as a genre of video games has raised questions on how to differentiate between video games with stripped-down mechanics and other forms of interactive media. As a response to this, the video game scholar Paweł Grabarczyk initiated the ergodic continuum: a scale to classify games based on their ergodicity. This bachelor thesis aims to expand upon Grabarczyk’s ergodic continuum through a textual analysis of the indie-game Routine Feat (sad3d, 2019). After outlining what is commonly referred to as the debate between ludologists and narrativists, existing research, and the concepts of spatial stories and affordances through aspects of action, this thesis analyses the game’s ergodicity through different types of play. By approaching the game through both instrumental and transgressive types of play, it identifies interactions between playstyle and narrative elements. It consequently argues how these interactions can lead to alternating ergodic outcomes of the same game, and how these outcomes address that in order to classify a game based on its ergodicity, a formalist framework of games as computational problems alone will not be sufficient. Overall, this thesis approaches Routine Feat as an argument concerning the need for a re-conceptualisation of narrative within the study of video games, as it shows how narrative elements actively influence types of gameplay, and potentially shape what the player constitutes as a problem or challenge.