GDC 2014

GDC 2014 Session Scheduler

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Death to the Three Act Structure! Toward a Unique Structure for Game Narratives

Tom Abernathy  |  Senior Narrative Designer, Riot Games
Richard Rouse III  |  Senior Game Designer, Microsoft Game Studios

Location: Room 3016, West Hall

Format: Session
Track: Game Narrative Summit
Vault Recording: Video

Over the last few decades, almost everyone interested in storytelling has become familiar with the classic three act structure employed by most Hollywood films. Indeed, many would argue that this same three act structure is used in stories of all kinds. Structure is vital in narrative - it's the tool writers use to guide the audience's experience of dramatic events. But not all storytelling mediums use the three act structure. Just as TV developed a structure all its own, story designers for games must develop structures tailored to the unique needs of their story and gameplay. This talk details some of the different structures employed in a variety of storytelling mediums, and explores the unique structural needs of games, providing designers and writers with the tools they need to tell stories as only games can.


The audience will gain a better understanding of how different mediums - from TV to theater to novels and beyond - use their own specific variants of story structure. We will also deconstruct how story structure works in several popular games, illustrating the unique requirements of game narratives, and showing the audience how they can apply custom game story structures to their own projects.