Not too long ago, Errant Signal put out a video where he echoed Gonzalo Frasca’s comments regarding the ludology vs narrativity debate. Quoting Frasca, Errant Signal suggests that said debate, whose opening skirmishes are chronicled in Game Studies, “did not happen” because there was no “debate” as to whether games “should be narrative or ludic”. And that’s true. At no point was there a formal moderated debate where game devs argued whether games should be about stories or about play. But there was, and there still is, a very real conversation regarding whether video games are best understood as stories or as games. You can find my full rebuttal below:
In his same video, Errant Signal agreed with Jim Sterling and suggested that the term Ludonarrative Dissonance is useless and should be discarded because it predisposes the critic to make negative assessments about the game. Again, I disagree. Ludonarrative dissonance is a useful term, as long as it is considered as existing within a framework. My full argument below:
When I was younger and I relied on the kindness of my family during holiday celebrations and my birthdays, I recognized the monetary value of video games. I knew that games were 30$ – 50$. During those days my collection was fairly small, and each game was like currency unto itself. My NES collection was composed of only twelve games: The Legend of Zelda, Zelda II: The Adventures of Link, Journey to Silius, Shatterhands, Revenge of the Ninja, Ninja Crusaders, Bubble Bobble, Castlevania II: What a Horrible Night to Have a Curse, Ninja Gaiden, Ninja Gaiden III, Snake’s Revenge, and – of course – Super Mario Bros. 3. My friends had other titles in collections equally as small, and we would trade games all the time. Of course, some games had more value than others. I remember that I really wanted Megaman 2 and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, both of which my best friend at the time had, but in exchange he wanted the two Zelda games These were the golden cartridge Zeldas, and it made them special. The Zelda games were the crown of any kid’s collection, and were completely off the table as far as trading was concerned. In the end, I saved up my lunch money for a month – two dollars per day – and bought the games from the corner video store at two for 50$; a bargain at the time.