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Saturday Night Live Sketch Skewers the Gap Between Gameplay and Story

You've probably noticed it called out in some Grand Theft Auto, Uncharted and BioShock games: those moments where the emotions being presented to you in cutscenes or dialogue don't match up with what the player's being told to do. And while that issue has been a point of contention for many years, I wasn't ever expecting Saturday Night Live to do a sketch about it. Much less a hilarious one.

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Ludonarrative dissonance is the fancy, occasionally derided term for the gap between a game's emotional underpinnings and what the person playing it needs to do to progress. And that phrase never gets uttered in this SNL sketch from the Sept. 27 Chris Pratt episode. But it's clearly what the bit is homing in on. I know this is old in terms of internet time, but I just saw it tonight and felt I had to share it in case anyone was in the same boat as me and hadn't seen it.

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A really simple example of Ludonarrative Dissonance:

A game gives you a bear. This bear attacks you. Then it gives you another bear. Again, the bear attacks you. Pretty soon, you come to one expectation: bears will attack on sight. Bears are a threat.

So then you get a cutscene. In the cutscene, a guy shoots a bear. Makes sense, right? But then the game starts moralizing, saying he's a bad person for this.

The game's story says that bears won't attack unless you attack them first.

But the gameplay says that bears will attack.

This is just one of many examples from Red Dead Redemption, but it's my favorite one, because I had survived literally nine bear attacks in the forty-five minutes prior to that cutscene. They killed three horses.