Reading Assignment for November 27th

REMINDER: No class 11/20!

You all have until the last class (December 11th) to turn in your final version. Since you are all doing a revision of this paper instead of a second essay, behomework5.jpg aware that this version will count as 60% of your final grade! So do the best job you can! I am happy to take a second look at your essay before you turn in your final one, but I MUST receive these second drafts by SUNDAY, December 2nd (so I have time to respond with comments and give back to you the next class). A second draft is not required, but highly recommended for those who did not receive a passing grade on the first draft.

For next week, please read (handout given in class):

* Wardrip-Fruin, N. and Harrigan, P. (2004) First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Cyberdrama, p. 1

Murray, Janet. From Game-Story to Cyberdrama, 1-10.

Response by Bryan Loyall, p. 1-9 (not available online).

Optional: Aarseth, Espen. A Riposte to Janet Murray and Janet Murray Responds.

* be prepared to discuss in class; no blog response necessary for this reading (above), but if you are seeking some extra credit, then feel free to blog.

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4 responses to “Reading Assignment for November 27th

  1. I feel as though the question of the real versus the unreal that we have been examining in the texts of the class is now spilling over to the nature of narrative itself.

    Janet Murray stresses that the author-scriptors should stop trying to fit the square peg in the round hole by attempting to add “the new artifacts to the old categories.” This idea has become particularly debated in the realm of video games as developers are now debating the issue of perspective in their narratives. Do developers run the risk of alienating players by abandoning traditional third person perspectives during cut-scenes or do they break the flow of the narrative by removing the player from the action and placing them in role of observer rather than participant?

    Bryan Loyall takes a much more Zen stance by saying interactive drama is both story and game yet not. I think this notion of a balance of story and game is well exemplified with the silent protagonist of Half-Life where events play out due to the actions of the player while Non-Player Characters advance the narrative around the player.

    The online response to Murray from Espen Aarseth reminded me of a video I saw about a year ago (and have not been able to find since) when during an interview someone asks the lead developer a question about the replay value of their game and why someone would want to continue playing the game after they beat it and the developer berated the interviewer about the notion of “beating” a game and how video games are the only medium where that verb is really used. The narratives of video games are not that different than traditional literature or cinema and yet no one says they “beat” No Country for Old Men.

  2. While I’ll agree that the semantics of saying that one “beats” a video game is an arguablly hash stance, the idea of “beating” a piece of literature or cinema is also hardly unheard of. For me, when I read a piece of literature over and over again it is because each time I read it I discover something new about it. When that stops happening, the odds of me picking up that book again dimminish rapidly. The same can happen with a video games.

    For me Murray is making a small attempt to redefine the future of narrative, while Loyall and his team are simply taking a familiar set of building blocks and attempting to create something different from it.

  3. Loyall is attempting to be a benevolent dictator. He talks of wanting to provide, “the powerful dramatic story that the author intended.” For me this speaks to the desire of the traditional storyteller to refuse to give up control over the narrative. What law is there that narrative must have a controled and predictable direction and/or ending? And if the literary world insists that such a rule must exist, then must interactive story be “narrative”? In the end it just seems like a bunch of academics arguing out a point that in reality is of little to no importance. Instead, we should listen and act on Murray’s response, “It does not matter what we call such new artifacts… The important thing is that we keep producing them.”

  4. I agree with Tom about Murray’s response… the necessity of continuing to produce new artifacts, but i’d like to address the idea of ‘beating’ a game or piece of literature…

    Many people take a piece of literature as a mountain to conquer, many approach gaming the same way.

    Lets pretend for a second that I’m a purist.
    What if those persons whom have that particular approach aren’t the audience the creator [or artist/author] intended. For someone who loves or gets drawn up into a game or story, they will replay it, reread it, reassess it. I’ve reread and replayed games dozens of times. Even if the words or the moves are the same, the experience is different. Something else stands out that didn’t before.

    It seems like a superfluous discussion to consider what might alienate the viewer/participant in the cyberdrama potentially… at some point… in the near future. The genre will evolve. And the participant/viewer will along with it…

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