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  • Titill er á ensku Playable Tragedy: Ergodic Tragedy in Chrono Trigger
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  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    This essay expands on Jesper Juul’s arguments in The Art of Failure (2013), where he theorizes that games allow a “new type of tragedy” which offers a greater degree of personal involvement with the fictional content of a game. Juul suggests that this new type of tragedy finds its uniqueness in the resource of “complicity,” whereby the player shares the responsibility for a tragic outcome in games. In The Art of Failure, Juul analyzes different games and concludes that none of those fully presents a complicit tragedy. In this essay, a short quest in Squaresoft’s 1995 game, Chrono Trigger is analyzed in order to present it as a positive example of the new type of tragedy that Juul identified.
    The quest selected for analysis is a short sequence that is referred to as “Lucca’s quest.” This is an optional sequence, playable in the second half of the game, which presents through gameplay the background story of one of the game’s main characters, Lucca. The quest gives players the opportunity to travel back in time to witness the moment where Lucca’s mother is caught in an accident that renders her unable to walk. Players are then given a very short span of time to prevent this accident and therefore change Lucca’s story. This game sequence’s structure is discussed in detail in order to demonstrate that it possesses all the qualities that Juul suggests his new type of tragedy should have.
    The analysis follows current scholarship in game studies in order to explain Juul’s conception of “complicity.” The quest is first described as having a branching narrative structure that is significantly different from the classical conception of plot, in order to better reflect what Espen Aarseth called “intrigue.” Then, through an analysis of gaming actions using Alexander Galloway’s typology, presented in “Four Moments of Gaming Actions,” the sequence is shown to be “ergodic” as it totally depends on the performance of user functions in order to complete a successful traversal. The resulting representation, graphically understandable as a workflow diagram, is further analyzed using Northorp Frye’s “Theory of Myths” and Algirdas Greimas’s theory of actants to show that it is structurally tragic, and that tragedy occurs both at the fictional level of the character, and at the real level of the player.

  • 7.9.2015

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Athugsemd: The appendixed full diagram of the quest in question is available through this link.