A game of twisted shouting: ludo-narrative dissonance revisited

Pawel Grabarczyk, Bo Kampmann Walther

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    This article takes a deeper look at the notion of ludo-narrative dissonance (henceforth LND), a popular term that refers to the perceived clash between the ludic and the narrative aspects of games. We wish to argue that a better understanding of the nature of LND and the reasons it appears in games enables us to look at this phenomenon from a new perspective that was not, as of yet, considered in game studies literature or the popular discourse. The typical approach to LND presents it as a problem or a design flaw that needs to be avoided by the developers. In contrast to this, we suggest that LND can be seen as a source of inspiration for the creators as it inherently invites the developers and the players to reflect on the game structure. We start with a closer look at the notion of LND and present three ways it can be interpreted. In section two we analyze the reasons LND can appear in games (regardless of the developers’ intentions). Section three goes through some of the existing methods of dealing with LND. Here we argue that embracing LND as a result of some of the necessary tensions of game design can result in the creative victory of the developers. We finish the paper, in the fourth section, with a longer case study of Manhunt which we see as a good exemplification of the reinvigorating power of LND.

    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)7-27
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Ludo-narrative dissonance
    • gameplay
    • games and violence
    • ludology
    • narrativity


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