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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Story and Narrative Development for Video Games by California Institute of the Arts

1,215 ratings

About the Course

In this course, you will examine how storytelling acts as a vital mechanism for driving video gameplay forward. Looking at several historical and contemporary games, you will be asked to evaluate and interpret different story styles with the goal of identifying themes and procedures for your own game ideas. We'll examine traditional narrative story processes, such as three-act structure, and how they fit into game story flows and the strategic elements of gameplay. Ultimately, you will learn how to define character, setting, and structure to create a compelling game concept....

Top reviews


Dec 30, 2015

This is my favorite course ever. Dariush teaches in such an engaging way and it shows you how to have a creative yet objective and analyzed mindset for creating a story and narrative for a Video Game.


Nov 6, 2017

This is so helpful. It covers all the essentials of developing a good story, applicable in any form of media, then it focuses on converting the story to a game by adding interactive gameplay elements.

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1 - 25 of 291 Reviews for Story and Narrative Development for Video Games

By Breanne C

Sep 7, 2018

My problems are moreso regarding my peers, as the course itself is fantastic, and this presenter is by far the most enjoyable to listen to and therefore easiest to absorb information from.

The bulk of the assignments being submitted by my peers shows little to no effort at all (a shocking quantity of which being directly copy-pasted from Wikipedia or outright blank fields), and yet my own assignments are being nit-picked to a disheartening degree. Enthusiasm and attempting to go above and beyond the requirements is frequently punished, and if I'm busy due to work or focusing on other courses and end up needing to submit later, I've had assignments reviewed by a single person; since there are no additional opinions to provide an average, my entire grade hinges on the opinions of a sole peer. I feel that assignments shouldn't be allowed to be counted as graded until they receive a set amount of reviews to allow for a peer average. We're students, so no single one of us is qualified to be a end-all-be-all judge of one another.

I feel that I must scrutinize Coursera itself in that this is a poorly-balanced system of grading, which should in all honesty be done by faculty. Seeing as how we're not paying for staff to perform the grading, I fail to see how this merits an ongoing subscription when the experience is equitable to purchasing a DVD set and book on a DIY course which one could share with a friend and turn to one another for peer review, without the looming stressor of arbitrary deadlines.

This is very disappointing.

By Vincent d P

Mar 7, 2016

I found that the portion of the class that taught story-telling was painfully over simplified. I learned nothing and felt no challenge whatsoever, in fact, I felt as though I was rehashing information from a 9th grade English class (no hyperbole). The other component of this class was learning how to create documents that you could use to pitch your game to developers. I found this component to be useful, but it could have easily been compressed into a single week if not a single lecture. There is no real accountability when it comes to grading work, as work is peer graded and students grade capriciously without regard for the criteria laid out in the lecture. In other words, most students responded to how cool or interesting they found my assignments, without regard for the weekly lecture or the grading criteria. It often felt as though the lectures didn't matter at all. Right when the class begins to introduce a more robust tour of laying out a game story, it suddenly ends. This class is only useful to students who are interested in an area of game design besides writing and who are taking the whole series anyway. If you are seriously interested in writing, this class will have little value for you and I would recommend skipping it.

By Dolapo A

Nov 7, 2017

This is so helpful. It covers all the essentials of developing a good story, applicable in any form of media, then it focuses on converting the story to a game by adding interactive gameplay elements.

By Francisco N

Dec 3, 2015

The content is good but is too focus in the 3 act structure, and don't explain the narration techniques specifically to videogames genres. The assignments were too repetitives and don't add variety or feeling of progression through the course. I recommend the course for who don't know the basis of the narrative structure, but not for people like me who work in the audiovisual world.

By Davide

Feb 9, 2016

Such a boring course. No challenge at all, no meaningful example, and in the end seems that everybody grade without any reason. I don't think I'll finish the specialization, it's too expensive for such a poor quality

By Viola B

Sep 27, 2016

I don't feel like I learned a whole lot, there wasn't a lot of new information presented.

By adrian s

Aug 16, 2021

The contents is very good, but the time flow management is very poor. The whole point of taking an online course (at least for me) is to do things when I want to. I see grading really following the deadlines ... even when I submit the homework early. Now, if this is an "intelligent" way to make sure people are on the platform long enough to pay some minimum target fee, then charge more from the beginning, but don't waste my time.

Otherwise, maybe peer review is not that efficient. The two star rating is because time is the most valuable resource for any person.

By Sarah H

Oct 23, 2021

I thought this course was so good! It's the 2nd online course I've ever done, and having ADHD it really helps to be able to do things at my own pace and pause the lectures when needed, so I don't miss anything important.

As for the course itself, I seriously wish there were more, as well as this one having more content. I really loved everything about it, but it was only like 9 hours. I would love to see future narrative design courses here, as well as this one maybe with more content if possible. Assignments were fun and mostly easy, but that was probably because I'm creative and a writer, as well as a big reader and gamer.

By Diego T

Nov 22, 2016

Well the course helped me to learn and practice how to develop a couple of characters briefly in order to start writting a story. It teaches a good scheme to follow and a method to achieve it succesfully.

What I lack most from this courses in Coursera is to receive more feedback, specially feedback from people who has some advanced knowledge in the field, like the teacher. I wouldn't mind to pay the course if I would have this kind of speciallized feedback, but so far I am happy with the free version of the course.

By Cathe B

Oct 20, 2016

Once upon a time, Calarts was my grad school, and I got the MFA gladly. Years later, I needed to up my skills, and I discovered Coursera had many of the classes I wanted to take-- and now I feel like my MFA is an MFA+. This course is very good for both the writer and the game maker- and more to the point- it is a great breakdown of what is a good storytelling device. Highly recommended.

By Rosana B

Feb 24, 2016

I am glad that I have chosen to sign up to this course. It has open up my vision to a whole new world. Thanks so very much. The professor is engaging and the course content is fascinating.

By Oleksandra K

Jan 7, 2023

Course is nice, but there are too much information, needed to download seperately and quizes pasted in video. It makes this course impossible to pass offline downloading it through the coursera mobile app. It is very uncomfortable when you don't have stable internet connection and have to wait to download everything seperately.

By Megan R C O

Jun 25, 2023

The course itself is fun, but the feedback and grading system isn't ideal. I imagine this is more of a flaw with Coursera than the course, but when I put a lot of effort into a piece of writing and the feedback I get is just a keyboard smash like 'ajhdfguy' it's quite disheartening.

By Rodolfo E S

Feb 20, 2016

The course develops skills in communicating video game narratives and weaving these into the overall structure of the game. The strategy hinges on a series of outlines--taught with examples and exercises--that eventually fit together in a comprehensive design document, which allows a designer/writer to organize ideas and make them comprehensible and engaging for potential readers. The examples used are great, covering games both simple and complex; and the exercises grow gradually less structured, ensuring that the skills necessary to develop an idea from scratch are gained along the way.

By Naveen G Q

Nov 3, 2022

In this course, I examined how storytelling acts as a vital mechanism for driving video gameplay forward. Looking at several historical and contemporary games, I am able to evaluate and interpret different story styles with the goal of identifying themes and procedures for my own game ideas. I examined traditional narrative story processes, such as three-act structure, and how they fit into game story flows and the strategic elements of gameplay. The last thing, I learned was how to define character, setting, and structure to create a compelling game concept.

By Zakhar Z

Nov 10, 2020

As a beginner that continues on the Calarts course, I enjoyed this one no less than the previous one. It may seem, at first, that it's too beginner-friendly but that's exactly what it's supposed to be. I got new insights and valuable instruments that will now help me carve out my stories more methodically, imbuing them with a technological process, taking them from a hobby or a spur of creativity to something actually tangible. Thank you to the course instructor and Calarts! <3

By Darshan M

Jul 2, 2023

Great introductory course content for Storytelling! It mainly focuses on how we can use a story as a narrative in video games and how it makes the gameplay more interesting! This course helped me create a compelling story for video games. The assignments also keep improving the quality of better writing skills. Brainstorming session I liked a lot because it gives the best option of all. And after that also how we can develop it and convert it into promising gameplay levels.

By Garrett W

Apr 25, 2019

I really enjoyed this course, and I felt that it helped me see video games from a story-first perspective. I especially liked the concept of "idea sheets" and feel I will apply that to many areas of my creative life. While this class may focus on the foundations of creating stories for games, the structure and guidelines that it provides the writer are invaluable. It is a lot easier to start writing when you break things up as this course shows. Really great experience!

By Ольга Ш

Jan 20, 2021

I enjoyed this course a lot! I liked how the subject was presented by the lecturer. Very accessible and easy to understand despite the vastness of the theme. And I can't decide whether it is an advantage or a disadvantage, but the course is shorter than all of the Coursera courses I've finished before. Pro - there's no water and all information is straight to the point, being respectful to your time. Con - it's so good, you'd like it to last longer)

By Juan P R R

Apr 9, 2018

The assignments were a bit repetitive, and a little too demanding in my opinion (maybe because I'm not a native english speaker)

But mainly: it was a big turn off to not be able to work with the actual idea I had in mind and be forced to work with the shooter game, I understand its purpose but I would have really liked to work on my own concept and receive feedback.

Other than that, the course was very rich, and the lectures easy and solid!

By Ankush S

Apr 28, 2020

There was a lot that I was not aware of before starting this course. I didn't know how to get a story become a part of the game, I didn't know how to start/end writing enough content to depict my characters well enough. The assignments included were sure long, but gave me a good practice to understand and learn at the same time, "what makes your game compelling" and definitely, one part of it is the game story!!

By Negar J

Jun 24, 2023

Maybe it's just me, but I like to have a 'checklist' approach to how I write. And this course gave me a checklist through which I can write my story and characters for a video game. The Instructor was very knowledgeable as well, and taught through examples. And there was ample time to workshop what we learned. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and I'm leaving it feeling heavier with knowledge.

By Martha M

Oct 13, 2020

It's a lovely course, very helpful if you are completely new to all of this. The instructor is very understandable and the assignments are quite fun. The only problem I had was the peer reviewing. Some of them don't really know how to do it properly and are sometimes unfair. But I don't know if this is a problem of the course or Coursera in general. Nonetheless, great introductory course.

By Gianmarco D

Oct 28, 2017

Dariush really nails all the explanations for putting creative ideas into process. I personally love storytelling and I'd like to enter the industry doing this, specifically, I found a lot of material to think about and reflect on the tasks at hand, all wrapped up by an instructor that clearly put passion and effort in conveying this course to us learners. Very happy with this

By Luis A

Feb 2, 2019

Una buena introducción a la narrativa aplicada a los videojuegos. Muy práctica. No es excesivamente profunda, pero muy recomendable precisamente porque admite a alumnos de casi todos los niveles.

A good introduction to the narrative applied to video games. Very practical. It is not excessively deep, but I highly recommend it precisely because it admits students of all levels.