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An Analysis of Narrative Elements in Survival Horror Games

In any story, whether it is in a video game platform or other forms of media, there are certain narrative devices that writers and designers include to make the experience more engaging. These also serve to establish the premise of the world in which the characters move.

Particularly in survival horror games, deception is a crucial device. From the perception of the world and its structure or environment to the role that a character plays in that world, deception plays an important part to make it more enjoyable and at times, to push the story further.

A key narrative element of survival horror games is deception: making the player think or believe something that isn’t necessarily true. Many horror games – with Prey being no exception – rely on the narrative hook of the player-character (in this case, Morgan Yu) having some form of amnesia. This amnesia is a convenient trope which allows and motivates the player to uncover the chain of events that led to the starting point of the game (for more on this, see Kirkland, 2009).

Samantha Webb analyzes these narrative devices in survival horror games which give players not just a visceral but a cerebral experience of the game. You may read more of her study on First Person Scholar.

(Image credit: BerzekerLT/Fandom; Bethesda)


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