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Diegetic, non-diegetic, mimetic narration - can anyone explain the difference?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by LootHunter, Sep 18, 2021.

  1. LootHunter


    May 27, 2017
    Hi, I'm writing an article on game design and storytelling for a small site and I want to get all the terminology straight. As I never really cared for it but now I don't want to mislead people.

    The thing is, the articles I found, contradict each other. Some say that diegetic narration is just a narration, like the text on the screen or a narrator's voice. And the mimetic narration is narration through visuals - like everything in the movie that was shot on camera and shown to the viewer is a mimetic narration.

    On the other hand, other articles say that everything inside the fictional world is part of the diegetic narration. Like if in the game there is a bullet counter on the gun, it's considered a "diegetic" part of the interface. And the text on the screen is considered non-diegetic because it is not a part of the game. And not a word about the mimetic part.

    So, can anyone explain to me what the proper terminology is?


    Jun 1, 2017
    sounds like you've got it straight.

    the words have straightforward definitions if you right click and google them.

    but I'd forget these fancy words that obviously cause confusion and just stick with real world example cases. Use plain language to describe how certain techniques increased player immersion. That's a word everybody knows and understands already.

    with plain language, practical cases, everybody can see the principle and understand it. If you make a back breaking academic effort to assign a specific word for every feasible distinct thing it gets confusing and makes people focus on things that don't matter. Or worse, they think they understand a principle before they do, because education conflates memorization of words with understanding.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
    BennyTan, TonyLi, Olmi and 2 others like this.
  3. BennyTan


    Jan 23, 2014
    Unless you are writing an academic paper, I doubt such academic terms mean much to your audience. As BIGTIMEMASTER said, use "with plain language, practical cases, everybody can see the principle and understand it."

    If you really want to be pedantic over such stuff, the both terms was not originally intended for games and there are no clear definition in games beyond whatever you want to claim. As a researcher I can tell you this is true, and that you will probably never get a clear agreed upon definition any time soon, but you could probably get a definition which your audience can understand.

    An example, is the term "gamification" which while can be defined in a way which everyone understands such as in wikipedia (, in the world of academia is still debated to heck and back with no one clear definition.

    Feel free to check out google scholar if your article happens to be on the various narration techniques in games and you want to include a history and current developments of the word. (
    LootHunter likes this.