What is it about?

Videogames are not stories, but they have something in common with stories, particularly stories about journeys (such as: road movies): both the player's avatar and the story's hero or heroine involve physical movement and quests. Indeed, in both cases, new developments depend on the underlying metaphor PURPOSIVE ACTIVITY IS MOVEMENT TOWARD A DESTINATION, in which events and actions in the journey domain are projected upon the goal-achieving & problem-solving domain. The stories, however, allow for much richer metaphorical mappings than the videogames.

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Why is it important?

There has been a long debate about the question whether it makes sense to consider videogaming as a sort of story-telling. This seems to be an unsatisfactory approach. However,the misunderstanding is explicable: certain videogames and journey stories have in common that they conceive of solving problems in terms of making a journey. If our explanations make sense, they can contribute both to the classification and theorization of videogames and to the expansion of conceptual metaphor theory into the realm of videogames.


The metaphor ACHIEVING A GOAL IS UNDERTAKING A JOURNEY is one of the most important and deep-rooted ways in which human beings conceive of purposive activities of ALL kinds. For this reason it is useful to explore how this metaphor occurs, and how it functions, in different media and modes.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: LIFE IS A JOURNEY, Metaphor and the Social World, July 2013, John Benjamins, DOI: 10.1075/msw.3.1.05for.
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