A serious game plot for is a story, which may be linear or branched, that structures the narrative elements chosen by the author, in game mechanics to drives the user experience, from the beginning to the end of the lesson-path, fostering motivation and the interaction of the player with game assets like characters, non-playable characters and activities to be achieved.
For the writing of a plot for a video game or serious game we rely on the Theory of Monomyth also known as The Hero’s Journey.
It is a term coined by anthropologist and mythologist Joseph Campbell to define the basic model of many epic stories around the world. This pattern is widely described by Campbell in his famous work The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949). Campbell argues that the heroes of numerous myths in different times and regions share fundamental structures and developments, which are summarized in The Hero With a Thousand Faces:
The hero adventure is launched from their everyday world to regions of supernatural wonders; the hero finds fabulous forces and end up getting a decisive victory; the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to grant favors to others.
And Campbell added:
Either ridicule or sublime hero, Greek or barbarian, Gentile or Jew, his adventure varies little on the essential plan. Wether the hero be ridiculous or sublime, Greek or barbarian, Jew or gentile, his journey varies little in essential plan.
Key stages (figure 1) of the Journey of the Hero in a game plot from the Theory of Monomyth are:
Figure 1: The Hero’s Journey (Cambell, 1949)
The Call to Adventure: the hero is in a normal situation where suddenly he gets information in his mind that acts as a call into the unknown.
Refusal of the Call: often when the call is given, the future hero refuses to pay attention. This may be because their sense of duty or obligation, fear, insecurity, a feeling of weakness, or any of the possible reasons that act to keep the person in normal circumstances.
Supernatural Aid: once the hero is committed to the search, consciously or unconsciously, a guide or magical helper appears or reveals himself among acquaintances. Often this supernatural character present the hero one or more talismans or artifacts that will help later in the search.
Crossing the Threshold: this is the point where the person enters reality in the field of adventure, leaving behind the known boundaries of their world and venturing into unknown and dangerous land where no rules or limitations are known.
Belly of the Whale: the belly of the whale represents the final separation of the hero known by the world. By participating in this stage, the person shows willingness to undergo a metamorphosis.
The Road of Trials: at this phase there are challenges, achievements or difficult duties that the player must undergo to begin the transformation. Often the person fails one or more of these challenges.
The Meeting with the Goddess: the player experiences a love that has the power and the importance of the all-powerful, overwhelming, unconditional love that one lucky child can experience his mother.
Woman as Temptress: the hero faces temptations, often physical or pleasant nature, which may lead to leave or depart from his mission.
Atonement with the Father: the player must confront and be initiated to that which holds the ultimate power in his life. In many myths and stories is the father, or a father figure, who has the power over life and death. This is the central point of the trip. All the above steps have led to this place.
Apotheosis: it is a period of rest, peace and prior to the beginning of the return of the hero fullness.
The Ultimate Boon: the achievement of the objective of the mission. It is when the player gets what they worked so hard.
Refusal of the Return: Having found happiness and enlightenment in the other world, the hero refuses to return to the ordinary to bestow the gift acquired his fellow world.
The Magic Flight: Sometimes the hero must escape with the gift, if it is something gods have jealously guarded. The return can be as adventurous and dangerous as it was traveling.
Rescue from Without: Like the hero may need guides and assistants embarking on the search, often the player should have guides and saviors of great power that would lead him back to everyday life.
The Crossing of the Return Threshold: The meaning of the return is the conservation of wisdom acquired in the search, the incorporation of such wisdom in life, and then find ways to share it with the rest of the world.
Master of Two Worlds: The hero is able to feel comfortable and competent both inside and outside world.
Freedom to Live: The domain leads to freedom from fear of death, which itself is the freedom to live. This refers to living in the moment, without anticipating the future or regret the past.