‘Ludonarrative dissonance’ is a term from game-design commentary, describing a moment when the game mechanics pull in one direction but the game story pulls in another, creating dissonance.
The ‘Ludonarrative Dissidents’ are three game designers, reviewers and commentators, veterans in the field of ludic narrative, who have come together to discuss the art, science and craft of RPG design by vivisecting game systems and seeing what makes them run.
Hello! We’re Ross, Greg and James. You can read more about us here.
Ludonarrative Dissidents is available from all good podcast distributors. We point people at Spotify for Podcasters (formerly Anchor) because it seems reliable. Our Kickstarter backers have access to a private RSS feed for fresh episodes. New episodes are released every 2-3 weeks.
Every episode of Ludonarrative Dissidents is built around four pillars:
- What does this game do?
- How does it do that?
- How do people play it?
- Why do they play it that way?
- (and how well does it succeed?)
We examine games from all angles: mechanical, ludic, narrativist, historical, cultural, structural, whether or not it’s fun, and Greg complains about its use of the future-conditional tense. We look at its influences and pedigree, its narrative engine, its world-building, its book-design, and James reveals that he dated the designer’s sister, or something like that.
In season 2 we have added episodes that look at specific aspects of RPGs, such as initiative systems, metacurrencies and diceless games.
The idea behind Ludonarrative Dissidents came from a Twitter discussion in early 2021. Someone was looking for RPG designers to work on a project, someone else suggested Greg and James, and after the two of them politely declined, a third person opined that a podcast with the two talking about games and game design would be quite a thing. Greg and James exchanged a virtual glance across the Atlantic, Greg mentioned the idea to Ross, the three of them filled a Google document with ideas, and the project was born.
As well as the podcast, there’s a Ludonarrative Dissidents Discord server with a thriving community, and that’s where people discuss the episodes and associated matters. Anyone can join the conversation there. Go on.
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Each season of Ludonarrative Dissidents is supported by a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Backers get early access to new episodes, hosted on a private server, and can also take part in polls to select the subject matter and games that will be featured in the future. At high levels, backers can even choose a specific game for the team to analyze.
Ludonarrative Dissidents shirts, mugs and other items of merchandise are available from the podcast’s store on Redbubble.
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