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Ludonarrative, a compound of ludology and narrative, refers to the intersection in a video game of ludic elements – or gameplay – and narrative elements. It is commonly used in the term Ludonarrative dissonance.
Ludonarrative dissonance refers to conflicts between a video game's narrative and its gameplay. 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 according to him 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: Why Video Games Matter (2010), notes the example of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, where a player can all but kill their digital partner during gameplay without upsetting the built-in narrative of the game.
Jeffrey Matulef of Eurogamer stated that "Uncharted has often been mocked for being about a supposedly likable rogue who just so happens to recklessly slaughter hundreds of people," and commended developer Naughty Dog for their self-awareness with Uncharted 4: A Thief's End's trophy "Ludonarrative Dissonance", which is awarded to the player for killing 1,000 enemies. In an interview with Naughty Dog's creative director Neil Druckmann (who directed the game alongside Bruce Straley), Glixel's Chris Suellentrop noted that the trophy was "a reference to the criticism that Nathan Drake doesn't respond emotionally to all the killing he does"; Druckmann replied, "I told all the people on the team, "This is my proudest moment, the fact that I came up with this trophy on this project." We were conscious to have fewer fights, but it came more from a desire to have a different kind of pacing than to answer the "ludonarrative dissonance" argument. Because we don't buy into it."
- "In Defense of Ludonarrative Dissonance", www.thegamecritique.com, August 25, 2010
- Hocking, Clint, "Ludonarrative Dissonance in Bioshock", clicknothing.typepad.com
- Bissell, Tom (2010), Extra Lives, Pantheon Books, New York, pp. 37 – 38, ISBN 978-0-307-37870-5
- Matulef, Jeffrey (May 11, 2016). "Uncharted 4's really meta hidden Trophies revealed". Eurogamer. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- Suellentrop, Chris (May 24, 2016). "'Uncharted 4' Director Neil Druckmann on Nathan Drake, Sexism in Games". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- "Nathan Drake in: The Curse of Ludonarrative Dissonance!", Experience Points, 10 July 2009
- Sawrey, Matt (26 Apr 2010), "Ludonarrative Dissonance: we still need to learn from Hocking", Thunderbolt