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Breaking Down Halo: Diegesis


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Junior Supervisor

Junior Supervisor

  • [7] FLAG OFFICER

Diegesis (/ˌdaɪəˈdʒiːsɪs/; from the Greek διήγησις from διηγεῖσθαι, "to narrate") is a style of fiction storytelling that presents an interior view of a world in which:

  • Details about the world itself and the experiences of its characters are revealed explicitly through narrative.
  • The story is told or recounted, as opposed to shown or enacted.
  • There is a presumed detachment from the story of both the speaker and the audience.

In diegesis, the narrator tells the story. The narrator presents the actions (and sometimes thoughts) of the characters to the readers or audience. Diegetic elements are part of the fictional world ("part of the story"), as opposed to non-diegetic elements which are stylistic elements of how the narrator tells the story ("part of the storytelling").

Diegesis (Greek διήγησις "narration") and mimesis (Greek μίμησις "imitation") have been contrasted since Plato's and Aristotle's times. Mimesis shows rather than tells, by means of action that is enacted. Diegesis is the telling of a story by a narrator. The narrator may speak as a particular character, or may be the invisible narrator, or even the all-knowing narrator who speaks from "outside" in the form of commenting on the action or the characters.

In video games "diegesis" comprises the narrative game world, its characters, objects and actions which can be classified as "intra-diegetic", by both being part of the narration and not breaking the fourth wall. Status icons, menu bars and other UI which are not part of the game world itself can be considered as "extra-diegetic"; a game character does not know about them even though for the player they may present crucial information. A noted example of a diegetic interface in video games is that of the Halo series, in which the player-character is equipped with an advanced supersuit that projects holographic images to the character within the game's rendering engine that also serve as the game's user-interface to the player to show weapon selection, inventory management, and special actions that can be taken.

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