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Opwiz

Mixing first and third person narrative

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Opwiz    348

Hello, I've written a script for my game where the player's avatar is referred to in third-person throughout the story. Here is an example, the main character's name is Eli:

 

Eli is sweating heavily and his heart is racing.

 

ELI

Please stop!

 

STRANGER

Shut up!

 

The voice came from his side. Eli begins to tear up. He pulls his shackles and starts to pound his back against the wall of the carriage.

 

The dialogue and actions are presented to the player in plain text. The problem comes when the player is asked to make a choice for Eli. These choices are written in first-person perspective. For example, later in the same scene Eli is asked who he is and the player is given the choice:

 

1. Identify yourself

2. Conceal your identity

 

Now I'm not quite sure what to do about this. Mixing the narrative modes does not seem like a good thing to do. Do I need to rewrite the script into a first-person or second-person narrative?

 

Thanks

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sunandshadow    7426

Technically your dialogue examples are second person - first person would be "Identify myself" or "Conceal my identity".  I don't think using two POVs is a problem if you stay consistent about which you use for what.  It's pretty common in comic books, for example, to have third person narration and first person dialogue, or second person narration and third person dialogue, or first person interior monologue and third person dialogue.

 

But here's a question - is the player going to see the words "Eli is sweating heavily..."?  Is the player going to hear them from a voice-actor?  Because if not, it's not narration at all, it's stage directions which you are going to have to figure out how to show through visuals and sound effects.  If the player is going to see or hear those words, is there a reason not to rewrite them to match the pov of the dialogue choices?

Edited by sunandshadow

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Opwiz    348

Technically your dialogue examples are second person - first person would be "Identify myself" or "Conceal my identity".

 

You are correct, my mistake. 

 

But here's a question - is the player going to see the words "Eli is sweating heavily..."?  Is the player going to hear them from a voice-actor? 

 

The player is going to see the words "Eli is sweating heavily..." as text.

 

 I don't think using two POVs is a problem if you stay consistent about which you use for what.  It's pretty common in comic books, for example, to have third person narration and first person dialogue, or second person narration and third person dialogue, or first person interior monologue and third person dialogue.

 

Perhaps it is not really a problem. I think you can view the dialogue choices as actions issued from the player to the avatar, so "identify yourself" is what the player is telling the avatar to do. I'll have to try it out some more to see if it feels natural or not.

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ShiftyCake    729

Short answer is no.

Long answer is yes and no.

Using two different types of narration is often a tricky business, one that can lead too many inconsistencies and disjointed writing. The main point you have to consider is this,

 

How am I drawing in the player, and Why?

 

So let's say I have a horror game.

 

How? Make them feel as if they are the character, while maintaining an eerie and distant persona

Why? To experience that emotional scare factor

 

So, how do I do this. While the first thought would be to simply make it all first-person, this is not a significant impact. Rather, mixing a third-person dialogue with first-person speech creates a significant eerie and distant feeling, while maintaining the personal feeling you wish to project. Here's a quick example,

 

The man opened his wife's door in anticipation, his bloody dream still vivid within his imagination.

creeeeek!

"Oh god," the burdens collapse in on the man at that moment, the realization that the dream of him cutting up my wife, was in fact not a dream at all.

"What have i done," The man cries in agony, cradling his head in his hands.

 

As you can see, I switch straight from a third person into a first in my speech. Realize though that you can only do this for two separate types of narration. So I used third person for the dialogue, but first-person for the speech. What if I used both for just the dialogue?

 

The man opened his wife's door in anticipation, his bloody dream still vivid within his imagination.

creeeeek!

"Oh god," the burdens collapse in on me at that moment, the realization that the dream of me cutting up my wife, was in fact not a dream at all.

 

 

As you can see, when you read the next line it becomes disjointed and wreaks havoc on your reader's anticipation level, ruining any concept of scariness.

 

So really, we get to the main point. You can only use this for two separate types of narration, if you use it at all. For you, you have your first, which is the dialogue, and your second, which is your choice. The easiest way to check, though, is to simply read it out loud and if, at any point, it feels disjointed then change it.

Edited by ShiftyCake

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