The Game Fiction Dilemma: Knights of the Old Republic vs The Sands of Time – Expressive processing

What drives players to spend forty, eighty, or more hours with a computer RPG? If we look only at the quest journal, where the operations of quest flag logics are exposed to the player, the appearance is of a massive indulgence in the pleasures of the to-do list. And certainly there is some of that. But, more centrally, KotOR is constantly providing doses of narrative closure and transition — from the small satisfactions of quest stages to the holistic sense of a planet’s stories, characters, geography, and history that can be developed over one or many playings. Jill Walker Rettberg talks about the pleasure found in learning the quest-based fictions of a place, the “network of fragments, most of which are not necessary to experience the game fully, and yet which cumulate into a rich experience of a storied world” (2007, 310). –Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Expressive Processing (excerpted)