Player Environmental Awareness: Rules of Thumb for Environmental Storytelling in Role-Playing Games
Environmental Storytelling is ”Staging player-space with environmental properties that can be interpreted as a meaningful whole, furthering the narrative of the game”. While many techniques present methods to guide players within levels or immerse the player, few are specifically targeted towards environmental storytelling and how players can be attracted to environmental storytelling. This project set out to explore and investigate different aspects and techniques to draw players towards environmental storytelling, establishing an assumption that players who were more conscious of their surroundings would notice more environmental storytelling elements. This was done by doing literature research on the topic of environmental storytelling, doing light play of off-the-shelf games and conducting interviews and soft evaluation sessions with practitioners in the field. Using a grounded theory approach, observations were created from the data gathered which were then open coded, conceptualised and categorised. After categorising, we diverged from our grounded theory approach and created 110 Rules of Thumb based on the 46 concepts and 15 categories identified during our open coding phase, which aim to be practical. Soft evaluation was done on the Rules of Thumb to obtain the opinions of the practitioners, who are also potential users. The main feedback indicated that they agreed on the general content, but emphasized increasing the number of supporting references and visual examples. More research should be done on the Rules of Thumb to increase validity and generalisability, and more visual examples containing different media should be included to allow for greater practicality of the results. A summative evaluation with practitioners with a range of different cultures, studio sizes, and genre proficiencies would be interesting.