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Thoughts on Diegetic and Nondiegetic

A look at diegetic and nondiegetic from the context of the terms introduction:

Diegetic Space- “Total world of narrative action… includ[ing] both onscreen and offscreen elements.”

Nondiegetic Space– “External to the world of narrative action.” A display panel or Pause button are examples.

Galloway’s emphasizes that the nondiegetic space becomes part of the narrative structure of the video game as a medium. He is not saying the nondiegetic becomes the diegetic. He simply means the non-narrative structure has enough character to become a staple of video gaming in general. This unique focus helps to separate video games from the active audience theory used by other media forms.

This otherwise paradoxical association of nondiegetic as contributing to narrative establishes a precedent for inverse relationships between different facets of gaming. In this example, he has enabled game play to contain a concept that would be contradictory in a particular game. The stratification and elasticity of terms in different contexts establish a procedural mirror of the medium as valuable as the applied language. Galloway’s adopted vocabulary becomes his own grammar of action. Below, diegetic and nondiegetic are portrayed in a way that assumes their existences are innate to gaming. While Galloway is open about this in other spaces, its worth keeping in mind the synthetic origins of this language.

“In some instances it will be difficult to demarcate the difference between diegetic and nondiegetic acts in a video game, for the process of good game community is to fuse these acts together as seamlessly as possible.”



One thought on “Thoughts on Diegetic and Nondiegetic

  1. Galloway does state directly that at times the diegetic and nondiegetic lines are blurred and hard to differentiate due to the machine actions such as power-ups and life refills are incorporated directly into the narrative of the game. I think this would be found in games like Metroid Prime where the story is told by the main character and through their memory where at one point the user is placed in a memory and is forced to pick up a power-up to replicate the dreamers memory. It is a power-up which can be considered nondiegetic but is part of the narrative making it diegetic. We also see things like the HUD being a diegetic item due to it being a function of the player’s facemask or helmet like in the iron man.
    This paradox is often a tool employed by the designer to help create a more immersive experience with all parts being accounted for as opposed to asking yourself, how does this information exist in my HUD when we are in a medieval realm with no data gathering equipment available. Although without it the player would have a hard time playing but that goes into his point about nondiegetic items and displays ruin the immersion into the game.

    Posted by diomazurek | June 14, 2013, 2:43 pm

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