Non-Consistent Narration

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Story-telling in a game which is not internally consistent.

Many games do provide narration of events as gameplay progresses. However, in some games - especially massively multiplayer online games - parts of the narration is used several times either to different players or to the same players. This causes the games to have Non-Consistent Narration in that events that have taken place in the game world are ignore by the games' own narrations.

Note: Story structures in games can be inconsistent in many other ways that than through having parts reused several times (e.g. Contextualization can introduce temporal inconsistencies and Non-Diegetic Features introduced features that are inconsistent to the theme). However, this patterns is limited to the re-use type of inconsistency.


The quests in Massively Multiplayer Online Games often create Non-Consistent Narration since they are given to any players that meet certain progress requirements, and this may include giving the same quests several times to players. Examples of games where this happens include DragonMud, Everquest, and World of Warcraft.

Using the pattern

Non-Consistent Narration is perhaps first seen as a to be avoided, especially in games with Roleplaying or where a design goal is to have Diegetic Consistency or Narrative Engrossment. For and, this means that Reflective Communication may be problematic since it easily creates Non-Consistent Narration.

However, Non-Consistent Narration can be used positively in other types of games. For example, Non-Consistent Narration can be a way to modify Predetermined Story Structures, typically by re-using story element such as Quests, Adventures or Campaigns. It may also occur in improvised Narration Structures without being seen as a problem. The conscious use of Non-Consistent Narration requires choosing what parts of the Predetermined Story Structures should be re-used and how to handle that players can notice the inconsistency.

Instances are often used with Non-Consistent Narration since these can provide secluded parts of Game Worlds which can both isolate the Non-Consistent Narration so it is only presented to those taking part in a specific Quest, Adventure etc., and create gameplay challenges specific for those players. Phasing has similar features as Instances but per its definition creates Non-Consistent Narration although this does not necessarily need to be noticed by players.

While Non-Consistent Narration most often occurs in Computer-based Roleplaying Games, they can occur in Tabletop Roleplaying Games when players from different groups join a common group after separately playing the same Adventures or Campaigns.

Narrative Aspects

Non-Consistent Narration is a Narration Pattern.


Repeated use of the same story structures causes Non-Consistent Narration to limit players from having an Exaggerated Perception of Influence. This since their part of a game's narration is reduced (although players may reap many other advantages related to gameplay functionality or social status from being involved in these story structures).

Non-Consistent Narration break both Temporal and Thematic Consistency. As soon as part of the Non-Consistent Narration is done through Dialogues, the pattern is very likely to make Thematically Consistent Dialogues impossible in that those participating in the Dialogues are ignoring that they have already said these things before.


Can Instantiate


Can Modulate

Adventures, Campaigns, Narration Structures, Predetermined Story Structures, Quests

Can Be Instantiated By

Instances, Phasing

Reflective Communication

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Narrative Engrossment, Thematically Consistent Dialogues, Temporal Consistency, Thematic Consistency


New pattern created in this wiki.