Environmental storytelling is a concept borrowed from theme park design; it is a general term to refer to how spaces can evoke and construct a narrative experience while navigating a space. According to Carson, in the theme parks rides “the story element is infused into the physics of the space a guest walks or rides through.” Carson briefly describes his bag of tricks as a Disney Imagineer, referring to the power of evoking other stories using theatrical trickery and establishing causality between what the player sees and the events that may have happened before. Carson’s overview shows that the concept of environmental storytelling is very broad, and encompasses a variety of strategies.
Borrowing concepts from theme park design as a concept can be problematic, however. Designers of theme parks understand the player as a visitor who makes sense of the space, rather than an active agent. Many strategies of theme park design focus on navigation of the space, providing a continuous sense of the topography of the space. For instance, the so call “wieners” in Imagineering are elements that draw visitors to them, attracting those visitors to a specific area, such as Cinderella’s Castle in Disney World in Florida. Through these strategies, the designers of the park structure the experience of the visitor and create narrative………..
……….. Jenkins enumerates different strategies in which gameplay can become a narrative experience, focusing on two main concepts: evocative spaces and micronarratives. Evocative spaces reference stories in genre narratives that the player may already be familiar with; the space does not “tell” the story, but draws from the previous experience of the player……………..
………….. Nitsche builds on Jenkins concepts of narrative by qualifying these devices as evocative narrative elements, building blocks which structure the player’s experience and help her understand how the gameworld works. As Nitsche defines them “Such elements can be anything and any situation in the game world that is structured to support and possibly guide the player’s comprehension.” The player has to figure out the connections between the elements, and by doing so she forms a narrative. Nitsche’s most relevant contribution is that these elements are interrelated-they are part of the fictional world, which the player learns about by establishing connections between elements. It is up to the player to interpret and make sense of these elements, thus the events of the story depend on the player herself.”
Clara Fernandez-Vara, Game Spaces Speak Volumes: Indexical Storytelling