Beats & Units: A story-game design framework

  • Nelson Zagalo University of Aveiro
  • Ana Patricia Oliveira University of Aveiro
  • Pedro Cardoso University of Aveiro
  • Mario Vairinhos University of Aveiro


There are no recipes or rules to develop games, any more than there are to develop stories. When we try to define a game system that not only has to create a balanced experience, but also has to tell a story, which can engage players in creating empathy and meaning, everything gets complicated. We faced this problem when we had to develop a serious game with the goal of promoting discussion and awareness among children around nutrition: FlavourGame. In this regard, we needed not only to design game mechanics that would feel complete and progressive, but also to create a narrative that provided meaning to the game experience, in order to ensure an underlying layer to the context of nutrition. For that, we had to develop a framework that could help the team in guiding the telling of the story while designing the progression of the game. In this article, we present the full framework as a story-game design approach to be employed in the creation of serious narrative games.