Ludonarrative, a compound of ludology and narrative, refers to the aspects of video game storytelling that are controlled by the player. It is contrasted with fixed or embedded narrative which are the purely narrative, non-interactive aspects of the game that are determined by the game's designers and told through cutscenes or other related devices. Ludonarrative is considered an essential concept in videogame theory.
Ludonarrative dissonance refers to conflicts between a video game's narrative and its game play. The term was coined by Clint Hocking, a former creative director at LucasArts (then at Ubisoft), on his blog in October, 2007. Hocking coined the term in response to the game Bioshock, which promotes the theme of self-interest through its gameplay while promoting the opposing theme of selflessness through its narrative, creating a violation of aesthetic distance that often pulls the player out of the game. Video game theorist Tom Bissell, in his book Extra Lives (2010), notes the example of Call of Duty 4, where a player can all but kill their digital partner during gameplay without upsetting the built in narrative of the game.