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Narrative Design



The first in-depth blog on story design in videogames in Italy. Scenarios is an "observatory" on games and narrative elements that compose them: structure, characters, spaces, direction. Everything is story.

In 2004, Raph Koster wrote that narrative in a game is only a side dish for our brain, while it's engaged with the challenges that the game system offers*. Most of the games in gaming history talked about issues like control, power, because the gameplay required it ("conquer", "beat the enemy", "upgrade"), featuring stories that often boiled down to simple "good/evil" dualisms. They had to serve the final purpose: the player's victory. However, some years later the gaming market would change. The so-called Indie Revolution, a democratization of the videogame that flourished also thanks to the birth of small development teams on home consoles, injected an enormous charge of influences and even new genres into the landscape. Even majors changed, consequently. The quality of the stories generally improved as well.

Cos'è Scenarios?

It does not mean that games like Final Fantasy VII, ICO, Metal Gear Solid or other games that made us excited did not have a quality Narrative Design, even if it was not yet called that way. But while "game writers" (often, the developers themselves) had to limit themselves to writing a story that gave positive feedback to the player's actions, nowadays, emotional involvement, construction of sophisticated stories and credible worlds are no longer relegated only to the masterpieces.


Narrative Design






Narrative Design

In the last fifteen years a new audience has been born, more varied and more used to consuming fiction in large quantities, especially audiovisual. The market has expanded its borders, the skills to create a video game have diversified, experiments, mistakes, inventions have allowed the videogame narrative to become object of study. Multiple choices and endings (existing only in some RPGs of the 80s/90s) have been affirmed, the concept of lore has become popular, themes such as social exclusion or feminism have been endorsed, tragic heroes have been written, legendary anti-heroes and alternative dramatic forms were tried, almost comparable to those of post-dramatic theater. The Narrative Designer, while not enjoying (yet) the same recognition reserved to playwrights or screenwriters, has become a professional of a tangible discipline. An art. Still, it is an almost unknown field.

Scenarios will spotlight one of the most important elements of creating a game, be it a "triple A" or an indie. It was created to talk, to observe together, it was born from a personal need (and a passion).

* Koster, Raph. (2004) ._ cc781905-5cde-3194-bb3b-136bad5cf58d_A Theory of Fun for Game Design. (1st ed.). Sebastopol (USA): O'Reilly.

Chi sono?
Narrative Design

Who I am

Matteo Caniglia

Playwright and narrative designer, I was born in Fiesole in 1992. I studied acting at Quelli di Grock, in Milan, and I founded a theater workshop for children with the Dante Alighieri Institute in Padua. I graduated as an Author at the Paolo Grassi Drama Academy. As a playwright, I wrote Laika Spasse - Redemtping Laika (Teatro dell'Elfo, 2014), the final result of a residency led by Atelier Teatro with Mamadou Dioume and Kossi Efoui, Materials for a Ferris Wheel (Teatro Franco Parenti, 2017) and No Border Machine for the European project Metropolis - Promised Lands (Milan, 2017; Banská Bystrica, 2018). With Because you're worth it I am selected by Linda Dalisi and Letizia Russo for the Under40 Contest at La Biennale di Venezia. In 2022, I won the Hystrio Award - Scritture of Scena 2022 and the mention PAV-Fabulamundi "Beyond Borders?" with my play Summer landscape with a listening tawny owl. I also work in advertising and in gaming, collaborating with developers of the indie scene in Barcelona. I write, among others, for NintendOn and Game Global. Among my masters: Renata Molinari, with whom I practice at La Bottega dello Sguardo, and Rafael Spregelburd. If you are interested in collaborating with me or simply if you want to have a chat about the topics we are passionate about, write me! I will be glad!

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