Starcraft II and Chinese Scroll Painting: Narrative Ideas for RTS Computer Games

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Presentation Title:

  • Starcraft II and Chinese Scroll Painting: Narrative Ideas for RTS Computer Games

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Abstract:

  • Abstract (long paper)

    Real Time Strategy (RTS) computer games have established themselves as highly successful Esports, however their capacity for single-player storytelling remains underdeveloped. In the case of Blizzard Entertainment’s Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty (2010), the storytelling of the game was widely criticized for an over-reliance on filmic animated sequences that were structurally disconnected from the actual gameplay. We describe Starcraft II in relation to the RTS game genre and present its structural similarities to Chinese scroll painting. We present a selection of narrative strategies from within the Chinese landscape scroll, including cartographic narratives of the journey, poetic metaphors in transmedial landscapes and landscapes of geopolitical conquest. By analysing RTS games in terms of scroll painting, we seek to provide designers of RTS games with a set of narrative strategies that are more structurally congruent than the filmic animated sequences, and therefore encourage the creation of more innovate and coherent narrative structures for single-player RTS games. Our paper concludes with a thought experiment for how the game map of Starcraft II might be redesigned by incorporating narrative structures from Chinese scroll painting.

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