Response Assignment # 11

I just found two interactive narrative sites well worth visiting:

Ripples of Genocide and About Life After the Holocaust

For next week, please read:kitchen_panorama_1.jpg

Interact as much as you can with the Online Caroline site and respond to both the site and article in this response assignment, considering (and discussing) the effect and/or possible effects of this type of interactive narrative.

  • What are the drawbacks and potential benefits?
  • What about this type of interactive narrative seems to work well or not? Why or why not?
  • How does this type of narrative reflect or seem to help inform our understanding of some of the larger cyberculture concepts we’ve discussed in class?

ALSO: for extra credit, write about whatever most took your attention (and why) within the film Deja Vu. In order to receive the extra credit, your response to Deja Vu MUST be in addition to (not instead of) the above post requirement.

26 responses to “Response Assignment # 11

  1. Just to throw it up there early in the week…it doesn’t look like the link Online Caroline works. When I click it, the link just bounces me over to Outlook. But I could log in through her actual website with the password.

  2. Email from Caroline, dated 11/27/07:

    Oh dear Literature.

    That was NOT the start I wanted. I had a vision of me, all interesting and demure in a tidy flat welcoming you with opens arms. Instead you get drunken antics on the living room carpet with Simon. What a waste of a decent cake.

    I don’t even know if I was wearing the right outfit. You didn’t hang around long enough to express a preference in the ‘What Shall I Wear’ section. I don’t blame you. Hopefully I can persuade you to stay a bit longer next time you come.

    Simon is such a pig. Every time David goes away he dashes round here as fast as his little trotters will carry him. Not that he’s a match for David – as you’d know if you’d visited the ‘My Boyfriend’ section (hint hint).

    So why do I put up with him? Well, he happens to be the only editor in town who still regularly gives me work. For example, he’s just this very day offered me 5,000 words on Paris – which would be great if he wasn’t insisting on coming along with me. Purely for professional reasons, of course (yeah yeah).

    So there’s my first dilemma for you. Should I go? What do you think? God knows what David would say. Lie – I know exactly what he’d say. And what he’d do. Sometimes I’m glad he’s so far away.

    David is coming back soon. I only know this because that bloody cow of a ‘best friend’ of mine told me he’d called her yesterday. Nice. He calls Sophie before he calls me. I suppose that’s for ‘professional’ reasons too. I don’t imagine you’d get that kind of treatment from your best friend.

    Anyway, ENOUGH about me already. What about you? You have yet to tell me if you’re a man or a woman. (What’s in a name, after all?) And you’re not prepared to talk about your love life. Fine. It’s a start, I suppose. But none of this really tells me how you actually feel about things, does it? Or whether we’re compatible, whether we’re going to be happy together. We’re going to have to do some work in that area.

    You said you were happy. That’s encouraging.I don’t know about happiness, but I’m hoping I can make you smile. In fact, I have a silly game for us to play.

    Come soon.

    Caro xxx

    http://www.onlinecaroline.com/index.cfm?comein=Literature&ID=63549

    p.s. What?! No pressies from ‘Send Me Things’? Ah well, IT3C is pretty unreliable anyway. Like most XPT services. David tells some real horror stories…

    p.p.s. Glad you didn’t hit the ‘Dump Me’ button straight away. Nice to know it’s there, though, huh? A couple of clicks and I’m out of your life forever. If only it was always that simple.

  3. Email from Caroline, dated 11/28/07:

    Hey! You came back Literature.

    So steak it is!

    You get cooking at your end, and we can stuff ourselves together over the Web. We could play the same music too if you like – although I imagine you don’t have quite the same taste as David. I only play that stuff to remind myself of him – honest! And he claims he inherited the whole collection by mistake as part of a faulty IT3C transaction.

    OK. I admit it. I wasn’t the prettiest of sights, galumphing around the kitchen in my shorts. I’m almost too embarrassed to put it in the ‘My Diary’ section, but I suppose we really ought to keep a record of the things we do together.

    You caught me just after my bath you see. And there was nothing from your first visit to tell me what to wear.

    I thought I was being funny, but I guess it might have backfired. You probably think I’m a right idiot now. I’ve given you the opportunity to say as much in ‘What Are You Like’ next time you visit.

    Christ! I don’t know why I worry so much about my body shape. I eat everything in sight, I don’t do any exercise. And where’s it all leading to anyway? I’ve seen what Sophie looks like now, and I just know she’s never going to get back to her gorgeous pre-pregnant self.

    David is annoyingly keen on babies. He did finally phone me yesterday and immediately started talking about starting a family when he gets home. He thinks I could keep Sophie company. Silly isn’t it? I still can’t stop feeling a little jealous every time David mentions Sophie. He’s sent some packages ahead that he wants her to come round and look at. So I guess you’ll be meeting her and her ‘bump’ within the next few days.

    Be warned, I am not crazy about children. I will take a LOT of persuading before I walk in the way of Cow & Gate. Once you have them, that’s it – you’re trapped into a certain way of life. And neither of us are up for being trapped, are we?

    Dinner will be on the table when you come, dear. There is a risk that Simon will call round, but don’t let that stop you. Now there is someone you wouldn’t let NEAR a child.

    If he gets stroppy I’ll throw something at him – an IT3C gift maybe (if I ever get one. Hint hint). It’s going rather well, this online friendship thing, don’t you think?

    Come soon.

    Caro xxx

    http://www.onlinecaroline.com/index.cfm?comein=Literature&ID=63549

  4. Email from Caroline dated 12/2/07:

    So I did what you asked, Literature.

    I took your inaction on the ‘You Decide’ front as some kind of decision in itself. I didn’t shoot him. I didn’t sleep with him. And we didn’t go to Paris. I just gave Simon a good thwacking with the pepperpot and sent him on his way. He deserved it.

    Simon, I’m afraid, is an idiot. It happens every time David goes away. Within days he’s round with the vodka and offers of work, stories about how mad David is and how he can take me away from all this. And now he’s trying to wind you up too. Did he succeed?

    He says you’re either sad or a bit of a perv to be spending time online with a complete stranger – as if loneliness or sex were the only reasons why someone like you would want to start a friendship with someone like me.

    But we’re hardly strangers, are we? Three visits in and you’ve already given me a few things to go on. No emails from you, though. You seem to be relying on whatever I – or XPT – can provide you with. Quite nice in a way, but a bit limiting. Means I have to do all the talking – which makes me look self centred.

    There was me banging on about children, when I don’t even know if you have any. (Still don’t, in fact, despite the stuff in ‘What Are You Like’.) Ah well, you still came back for more.

    Whatever you tell me about kids or anything else, I have to accept that you might be lying to me about who you really are. It’s early days. I guess from my end I might have to accept that loneliness DOES have something to do with it.

    I’m missing David, you see. He sounds so remote when he’s on the phone. I left a snippet of his phone message in ‘Take A Message’ so you could hear it for yourself. Never wants to chat. Just wants to know if his parcels have arrived, whether Sophie knows about them (grrrr). Makes a few pronouncements about how he’d like things to be when he gets back and boom… he’s gone.

    Why do men do that? Why can’t they chat. It’s like getting blood out of a stone, getting David to shoot the breeze or gossip or talk about his feelings. This whole thing about Sophie, for example. He’ll never admit to me that there was anything more there than two work colleagues getting on well together.

    At least Sophie’s not so evasive. If I told her I was harbouring a grudge, I’m sure she’d just laugh it off. She’s coming round for these packages as soon as they turn up. In fact, she wants to combine it with one final binge before she drops the sprog: cocktails and fridge raid at my place, quick drop-in to local bar to meet Martin and reassure him that Sophie’s OK. And then a club. Or two. Or three. We’ll see how it goes.

    And, of course, if we get really drunk I can instigate a stupid fight about whether she slept with my boyfriend or not. Now that’s what REAL friends are for!

    As for you. I think it’s about time we put this thing about clothes to rest. I’ll model an outfit and you can decide whether it’s the right thing for a night out with Sophie. Now that’s what ONLINE friends are for.

    No Simon, I promise!

    Caro xxx

  5. Re: gift sent to Caroline (by someone in the class):

    Thank you for using IT3C, Literature.

    We have emailed Caroline to tell her of your intention to send her Vodka (large). We are confident that this gift will make her very happy.

    IT3C gifts are in great demand (as you can imagine), so we do sometimes experience problems with delivery. We will endeavour to keep Caroline informed of any mishaps that may occur to her package.

    To find out more about how IT3C works, and how you can send more goodwill gifts to other people (and receive a few too!), visit our Web site today.

  6. I think OnlineCaroline is ahead of its time. I think that as time goes on, lots of people will become less and less satisfied with traditional narratives, and begin looking for something new. OnlineCaroline is certainly an interesting look into one possibility for future narratives. My problem with OnlineCaroline is that the plot never actually changes. It just molds itself around the reader’s responses. I find myself relating this type of interaction to the “Choose your own adventure” books I used to read as a kid, in which you as the main character are supposed to make the decisions, so the narrative stops and asks you what to do. It often gives you two or three options, along with a corresponding page, where you then learn the result of your decision (I usually ended up dying a terrible death). Only being given the option of one or two choices for responses to OnlineCaroline’s questions reminds me of the limitation in those books. I understand that the narrative is based on a computer paring your answers with the appropriate response from Caroline, but it makes it overall very limiting. I enjoyed her website, but it also felt limited. We only see two rooms in her house, we only see a half dozen of her belongings, etc. As an interactive user, I need more to become immersed in this reality. I also need to know that my responses (limited or not) truly have an effect on the overall outcome of the narrative. Otherwise, it just seems like I’m along for the ride, just like a traditional narrative. At least the “Choose your own adventure” books’ plot changed depending on your choices (even if you usually just die in the end).

    I am enjoying Déjà vu, to the extent in which I have seen. The ability to change the past, even if only to warn a past you to avoid a major mistake, would be a very appealing idea to a lot of people. However, the way that this movie presents it (which I like very much) is that if you attempt to change the past, whatever you do will result in the same outcome, and in fact you may be what causes the event you’re trying to change. This idea of linear time travel is personally more favorable than some other more chaotic ideas. I like that the characters in the film appear to fear and respect the time viewing ability, and seem to be doing their best not to abuse it. Now one issue I have (and this might be explained later in the film, or I missed it) is the (3?) mile radius that the time travel viewer is limited to. Why this limited radius? If you are able to bend time, are you not also able to bend space? And why does the mobile time travel pack have unlimited (line of sight only) range? Shouldn’t they both be bound by the same limits? Time travel is a very very complex subject, and if I try talking about it too much I’ll just end up making my head spin, so I’ll just say that I’m looking forward to seeing the end of the film.

    And in case you are still interested Kristin, I can comment on the different game consoles, being a gamer myself:
    The three main consoles today (Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii) are very different, and cater to very different people. They are all considered next-gen consoles, and they each bring different features to the table. The PS3 is meant to be on the cutting edge of technology, bringing Blu-Ray and HD capabilities a-plenty. The Xbox 360’s claim to fame is its investment in its online (Xbox Live) community (as well as its much larger available game selection). And the Wii brings a completely different player experience with its motion-controlled gaming.
    The Wii is a very fun console, and it’s virtual library of old Sega and Nintendo games is very appealing, but I found myself only playing the console when I had people over. Drunken Wii Bowling is something everyone should experience at least once.
    The PS3 is one console I have very little interest in. It’s a good deal if you want a Blu-Ray player, or if you are obsessive about HD gaming, but other than that, pretty much all of the same games come out on the Xbox 360, so I’ll stick with that.
    My personal preference is the Xbox 360. It may not be quite as advanced as the PS3, but I am a big fan of online gaming. Being able to gloat to the losing team or curse the winning team creates a whole new dynamic to games. Also being able to play with a group of friends who play well together is enjoyable. The Xbox 360 is also getting more into social networking with their upcoming fall update, so we’ll see how that goes. The 360 also functions as a media center extender, which is a big plus.

  7. The whole set up of the Online Caroline interactive narrative reminded me of The Powerbook we read in class a few weeks ago especially the e-mails you get after every time you visit and the questions about yourself so the e-mails are more personal. I feel that this is definitely the direction personal narratives are going but maybe not the best. Like Christian I too used to read the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books as a child and loved them. I loved the control I had over the story but I never questioned the control they had on me because they never had any, I was in the driver’s seat and that’s why it was fun. Online Caroline seems like it is fun in that way to an extent. The part I have a problem with is the whole “building a relationship” with Caroline aspect. I understand that it’s interactive but the whole time I was roaming through the website and reading the article about the site I kept thinking if this got into the wrong hands this could become a very unhealthy addiction because the lines of reality and fiction definitely get blurred right when she starts pulling you into the story, asking you for advice, complaining when you don’t come around, sending “personal” e-mails, addressing you as “you” and commenting on the places you’ve been to on the site which especially creeped me out. I understand that once I’m on the internet on any website my actions are being watched in some shape or form but I don’t get “personal” e-mails from the site(s) about where I’ve been on the site and why I didn’t do this that or the other. I might get suggestions of what to buy, read or listen to but it’s never addressed to me in a personal manner like the e-mails Caroline sends. Maybe I’ve seen too many Lifetime movies and Dateline NBC episodes about internet addiction and all the trouble it can get you into if you’re not careful but Online Caroline creeped me out because even though none of it is real and it’s all fiction through the eyes of most people, it is very real to some people and that’s when it goes from being a harmless interactive online narrative to full blown delusional addiction.

    I’m glad we are watching Déjà Vu because it’s one of those movies I thought looked good but never got a chance to see it in theatres and had totally forgotten about until you mentioned it. I really like it so far and many things caught my attention. I’m a big fan of crime and unsolved mystery TV shows and movies so the whole story is very interesting to me. The one scene that really caught my attention and got me thinking was the scene where Washington is driving in that huge army hummer with that goggle head set thing on that could see into the past where he was chasing Jim Caviezel in a car. Obviously it was a total cool looking scene hands down and I understand Washington wanting to try to save his partner from certain death but I felt that by wearing those goggles that could only see in the past while literally driving down a busy bridge the wrong way in the present he changed many innocent peoples present and futures because those accidents he caused weren’t minor fender benders. There’s no way at least one person didn’t die or become permanently injured from those accidents he caused. So I thought that was a very interesting way the movie addressed the classic idea that “if you change something in the past it will change the present and future” in that scene because the viewers attention and thoughts are on the actual chase not all the people that Washington just plowed through and how they’re lives have been altered because of him changing or trying to change the past.

  8. Personally, I’m not a fan of OnlineCaroline. To start with I find her website kind of bulky. (Which makes me wonder how old it is…because it does not seem new. It’s age isn’t really important, but I am curious.) But yes, navigating around her website is a little awkward. And some of its content I don’t understand. The whole “my Apartment” tab I don’t see the point of. It’s a collage of her kitchen…but we see more than her kitchen in the webcam. So why doesn’t this collage change? Or why isn’t it bigger?

    However, what really annoys me is that I don’t think OnlineCaroline is really all that interactive. Ultimately you, the reader, the experiencer, the interactor, don’t change anything about the story. The most you can do is cause some minor editorial changes to the e-mails that Caroline sends you. As Jill Walker points out even when you make wildly different choices on about the same thing (on different accounts) “only a few words in the e-mail are different.” Caroline’s story is fully scripted out and there’s no Garden of Forking Paths that you can lead her around on. You walk along the single footpath, looking off to your left and your right every once in a while and so every once in a while Caroline comments on which way you’re looking.

    The choices that we make have no real impact on the story, and therefore the story loses a lot. What if Caroline dumped David when you told her to? Would she still end up the same way? What if when you told her that your favorite food was Caroline (roasted) and your favorite drink was Caroline (liquified) she got creeped out and dumped you? If the story were somehow impacted in a meaningful way by the choices we made, I think OnlineCaroline would be 100 times more interesting, even if there was still only one real ending. The fact that it’s the same every time through is dull.

  9. This was incredibly interesting to me. I love the idea of a new frontier in narratives, to keep people interested in stories (you know, all those people who never read books!).

    Like the other two responses so far, I was reminded of the Choose Your Own Adventure books. I’ve always been fascinated with the idea(as shown through my paper), and I think bringing it to life makes it just that more interesting for the reader/viewer. One can have the most amazing imagination and it won’t quite compare to actually seeing it and not being able to stop it.

    Reading the article about Online Caroline reminded me a bit of one of the past blog responses. I remember saying how going onto the holodeck and interacting in a story wasn’t cheating because there wasn’t a real person. I still agree with that, but my view over how attached a person can get changed a bit. I think one could easily get obsessed with Caroline- I mean, who doesn’t love someone who is so devoted to them? That’s addictive. If someone plays this game and is mentally unstable, what if they were to begin to obsess over Caroline so much that they had a mental breakdown at the end? Creepy thoughts.

    Even so, if this is where narratives are going, I’m definitely going to enjoy it. I can only imagine the possibilities, and imagine what will happen when they figure out more options for the viewers without changing the plot so drastically. It’ll be even more fun.

    ——

    I watched Deja Vu separately since I missed last class. I’m pretty sure its the correct one XD

    What Aliza was talking about in regards to how much his actions changed everyone who came into contact with him reminded me of this German subtitled film called Lola Rennt (Run, Lola, Run), in which the main character goes through the same scenario three times, but does something slightly different every time and greatly affects the lives of those around her (which are shown through about five or six short snapshots detailing the rest of this person’s life). Perhaps people don’t truly realize how much we can affect other people, even through the tiniest interaction. They don’t realize how connected we are, they don’t even THINK about it, because they’re all so wrapped up in their own little world and the important people in it.

    At the same time, if I remember correctly, the movie also addresses the ideas in Garden of The Forking Paths. They call it the “Branching Universe Theory”. An action changed can branch off of the current reality and continue parallel on in its own course, leading to a completely different future. The old fork may continue to exist… or it may not. It is hard to really tell if the other forks continue on, but we do know there could be other realities out there.

    One of the characters (Denny, I think?) states “Yeah, but that river is the Mississippi and we’re lobbing what amounts to a pebble into it. That’s a very few tiny ripples in a kind of big body of water, don’t you think? ”

    Which brings us back to changing the lives of other people around us and what I mentioned before about people not realizing how they affect others. This guy is a prime example of it. He may think its just a small pebble in a river, but he could be drastically changing the entire course of time!

    (Side note: I read a book about this topic when I was younger. A girl accidentally gets trapped in the court of Edward VI as he’s beginning to ail. She figures out he’s allergic to dogs and wheat, he lives, and Elizabeth never becomes queen. Spain ends up taking over what is now America, which becomes dozens of extremely poor countries. All over taking a dog out of a room! Goodness! Talk about changing the future!)

  10. HELP! i don’t have the password to the site!
    email me @ hopebowie@gmail.com

    But… while I’m here… I have a DEJA VU bone to pick. It started with the part when he discovers the bloody rags in the woman’s apartment, and inspecting it, in which he was clearly wearing gloves… and the other officer asking whether he forgot how to process a crime scene, because there were fingerprints everywhere… and I started thinking…

    The entire motivation behind Washington’s character is to prevent the ferry explosion and to save the woman he is falling in love with. He is watching the past[4 days and 6 hours] in real time. If he succeeds in changing the past so the ferry explosion never happens…

    SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO DON”T KNOW THE ENDING!!! STOP READING!!!!

    … by going into the past his future version[which goes into the past] ceases to exist, because the character [in the past] wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go back in the first place, and life would go on, and so he gets the girl without knowing how she knows him at first….

    However. If the character had not succeeded in stopping the ferry explosion, what would keep him from having another go at it, as the opportunity would have presented itself again? He would have had the opportunity to meet Kilmer’s character again, and have a chance to try again. Its like two mirrors that face each other, infinity, until you smash one of the mirrors and close the ‘portal’ or repeating image.

    This leaves the obvious problem that he would be multiplying himself.. which for some reason literature always says that you can’t see the future or past version of yourself because you would think you were insane when confronted with a double. An annoying literary device… but it seems to be everywhere…

    Anyway, it seems like he’d have infinitesimal opportunities [unless his future version gets killed of course] to stop or change an event…
    I’m just saying. It annoyed me…

  11. I agree with ben and am not a big fan of OnlineCaroline. At first I was intrigued by how the website paid attention to what you were searching through and how long you were there. Then I went to the website, and found it to be nothing like I imagined. As ben stated, the site seems very outdated. The web cam looks like a web-porn pop-up window, except it’s supposed to be there. When moving around the site, I found myself becoming bored quickly. I filled out the “about me” section, and that seemed to be as fun as it could get, which only lasted a few minutes.
    What confuses me is the review by Jill Walker. She states “Caroline permeates my everyday life in a way that is unlike other fictional characters.” That may be so, but only for the first time you play. As she states later the same results happen. “You don’t play simulation. It plays you.” I’m not sure about the creation of OnlineCaroline. Is the purpose to play as many times as you can until the end changes? Is there really a way to “save Caroline from her fate?” I’m not sure. And to be honest, I don’t really care.

    As for the film Déjà vu, I’m a fan so far. I wasn’t sure when I saw the previews, so I never saw it. But once again, Denzel keeps it real. The entire concept of being able to view the past, but be limited to not only where you can see, but the time that you must work in helps keep the film interesting. When Denzel uses the laser pointer, which enters into the past, my mind was blown. When they explain how they folded time so there on top of each other, it was the first time I’ve heard an idea like that. I’m excited to see how the rest of the movie plays out, especially if trying to solve the crime is the means of the end, or if he finds a way to save the woman. Being a Denzel movie, I think he’s save the woman, but we’ll see.

  12. p.s. thanks for the spoiler alert, i’m trying not to look.

  13. Like some others who’ve already posted, I’m not impressed by Online Caroline. And, of course, it’s for most of the same reasons. It doesn’t seem to live up to the power of its medium. It may seem interactive, but that’s on the most rudimentary level, and the actual story is not interactive at all. I’ve spent the semester learning about creating interactive narrative in another class, and Online Caroline doesn’t meet those requirements. If it were turned in as a final, its creator would fail. The most simplistic form of interactive narrative (not just interactivity, interactivity within a story) is the traditional branching storyline, made popular by the Choose Your Own Adventure series. You make a decision, and then go down a different path. Online Caroline doesn’t change based on your decisions. She says she wants your advice, but if it doesn’t fit with the pre-defined story, she won’t take it.

    That being said, it is a start. It’s quite a ways behind the leading counterparts (videogames), but it is using bandwidth in a productive, creative way which furthers the art form. Sure, it’s not an interactive narrative, but it is an involving narrative (not a real term, just seemed fitting, don’t say it if you want to sound knowledgeable). It involves the reader/user in the story, even if they can’t affect it. It makes the audience feel closer to the story than books or TV shows. And that seems like an important step to me. With all the online television that’s starting to be produced, it’s good to have something to remind future creators that bandwidth goes both ways.

  14. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to interact with Online Caroline as much as I would have liked, when I logged in I saw that under the You Decide heading I was given no options. The only text there read “Remember, people in glass houses…” I don’t particularly fault the website or its creators for the lack of options, I just happened to enter the story at a particular junction of the interaction where Caroline wishes you to remember that it is a “person” you’re dealing with here and not just someone’s personal narrative. From as much as I was able to gather from exploring what I could of the site on my own, and the article by Jill Walker what seems to work well about the Online Caroline site is its ability to process to process the information you feed it along with Caroline’s narrative. Though your information doesn’t seem to have any real impact on the narrative (other than rewording of a reply) according to Walker, the fact that your personal information is included helps to forge the personal connection to Caroline.

    What I don’t think works about this narrative is, as Walker explained, the story doesn’t change. I wonder if the creators actually meant for people to be so moved by their interactions with Caroline that they go back and replay the experience from the opposite viewpoint, like Walker did. I think my desire for your choices to have a direct impact on the course Caroline’s life takes seems a bit like nitpicking since keeping with the continuity of your previous choices could easily spiral out of control but I remain steadfast that your responses should carry some sort of weight other than an emotion connection.

    Scrolling down to read the spoiler is oh so very tempting but instead I’ll just wait to see it play out for myself. I’m sure I was among the scores of movie goers that saw the trailer for Déjà Vu and thought “Déjà Vu? Already seen it!” (Listen, no one said I was funny) but really I missed out as it’s been really quite enjoyable thus far. I don’t recall, but was there a specific reason that the characters were able to look four days in the past beyond “because I said so”? From what I remember from by brief foray into theoretical physics, an Einstein-Rosen bridge is the usual means of time travel. The screenwriters did their homework.

    The post about consoles has disappeared so I’ll leave my two cents here. Each of the next generation consoles has very different audiences. As Christian pointed out, the PlayStation 3 is meant to be your new home entertainment media center, despite the fact that according to Sony customer service representatives dust is considered An Act of God and thus voids your warranty. The Xbox 360 is focused more towards the “hardcore” gamer focusing instead on the natural competition of video games with its achievement system, Gamer Scores, and centralization of Xbox Live to the Xbox 360 “experience”. The Nintendo Wii on the other hand, thrives on exciting new utilization of the way the user controls the game via its motion sensing Wiimote.

  15. I agree with both Christian and Aliza regarding the limitations to Online Caroline. In his response to Janet Murray’s “From Game Story to Cyberdrama,” Bryan Loyall wrote that in this type of narrative, the reader (player?) is (or soon becomes) conscious of what elements change the story and how. I have played video games that give you choices on which actions to take in certain situations. The first that comes to mind is Final Fantasy VIII—at certain times within the game the player can choose which actions to take or how to respond to other main characters within the game. However, this was not a focal aspect of the gameplay and as such, the value of the choices the player made seem next to nil. The second game I’m thinking of is Persona for the (eek) PS1. Here, the choices the player makes in the game are more central to the gameplay, but it never becomes quite clear how the player’s choices affect the gameplay; this creates a feeling of randomness which, while more realistic, is less fulfilling for the player.

    Which brings up some important questions: Is the impact of the interactivity enough that the reader cares about the outcome? Furthermore, at what point does the impact of the choices the reader makes become too obvious, making the reader overtly aware of her impact on the narrative and thus the separation between herself and the narrative. At what point does the choices the reader make become too inexplicable, in which case the reader may lose interest in interactivity she has no idea how to manipulate. There are all these fine boundaries in interactive narrative which have yet to be defined…but are essential to working out before these will ever become successful. I think here is where interactive games and interactive narrative will diverge—or perhaps this will become the defining feature of interactive narrative: whether or not the reader is aware of the outcomes of her actions. On the holodeck, it seemed to me that the captain was fully immersed in that universe, and was not overtly aware of how her actions would ripple out to affect the wider narrative. At the same time, the narrative must have had a plot in the sense that events happened in a linear progression, and yet some of these events seemed like mundane features of everyday life…cooking, caring for the children, etc.—this gave the narrative a higher sense of being ‘real.’ By existing within a determined plot, the reader surrenders control of the narrative. By understanding what outcomes are derived from certain actions (thus having control), the narrative essentially becomes a game which can be manipulated by the player.

    Forgive my memory if it serves me wrong, but I think it was Glenn I was talking to in class last week about this very problem—he has an Interactive Story Development (or something similar) class in which they are dealing with this issue. One solution they found was to have the effect of the interactive choice come much later than when the choice was made. Glenn gave me an example of helping a man during the story…later in the game the man will help the player in some situation—if, however, the player did not help the man earlier in the game, the man will not provide help later. The problem with this is that once the player gets past the point of the man helping her, she knows how her actions have affected the gameplay, and it becomes gimmicky. Also, this is a pretty direct/literal consequence, read: boring. This brings the issue of how certain actions affect narrative. The problem here is, many of the consequences that don’t seem literal will seem too arbitrary, in which case, the player will lose interest in making the choices altogether. But then the root of the problem is the nature of reality, really. I don’t know how my actions affect anything (other than in the most direct instances—I’m nice to you, you’re nice to me, which doesn’t always happen anyway lol) in real life, so how can I simulate that in a narrative? We don’t have a hold on how (for lack of a better term) quantum possibilities unfold, so how the hell can we simulate them? Glenn, be ready, because I want to talk some more about this. Who teaches that class?

    Yet here I’ve gone and compared interactive narrative to video games, which is exactly what Janet Murray did not want people to do. However I feel that video games (of certain genres, RPGs in particular) are the closest thing we have to interactive narrative. As a sidenote, if anyone has played the games I’ve mentioned and disagrees with my analysis of the games, please let me know—these observations are just drawn from my personal experience many moons ago (PS1 is an artifact now ha).

    –Mindy

    Oh also, Online Caroline may have drawn me in more if it were a different story. This just seemed like another bad reality show…Caroline talks about her problems, and bla, bla, bla…don’t care. It is just not intellectually stimulating. The only meaning derived from this (corporate control) seems like an afterthought, a veil over the badness of the story. I know that’s a little harsh, but c’mon…ummm…(must end on positive note..) It is a cool beginning for interactive narrative, though, and I’m glad to have been exposed to it…you have to get through the clunkers before you reach the masterpiece, I guess.

  16. I agree with both Christian and Aliza regarding the limitations to Online Caroline. In his response to Janet Murray’s “From Game Story to Cyberdrama,” Bryan Loyall wrote that in this type of narrative, the reader (player?) is (or soon becomes) conscious of what elements change the story and how. I have played video games that give you choices on which actions to take in certain situations. The first that comes to mind is Final Fantasy VIII—at certain times within the game the player can choose which actions to take or how to respond to other main characters within the game. However, this was not a focal aspect of the gameplay and as such, the value of the choices the player made seem next to nil. The second game I’m thinking of is Persona for the (eek) PS1. Here, the choices the player makes in the game are more central to the gameplay, but it never becomes quite clear how the player’s choices affect the gameplay; this creates a feeling of randomness which, while more realistic, is less fulfilling for the player.

    Which brings up some important questions: Is the impact of the interactivity enough that the reader cares about the outcome? Furthermore, at what point does the impact of the choices the reader makes become too obvious, making the reader overtly aware of her impact on the narrative and thus the separation between herself and the narrative. At what point does the choices the reader make become too inexplicable, in which case the reader may lose interest in interactivity she has no idea how to manipulate. There are all these fine boundaries in interactive narrative which have yet to be defined…but are essential to working out before these will ever become successful. I think here is where interactive games and interactive narrative will diverge—or perhaps this will become the defining feature of interactive narrative: whether or not the reader is aware of the outcomes of her actions. On the holodeck, it seemed to me that the captain was fully immersed in that universe, and was not overtly aware of how her actions would ripple out to affect the wider narrative. At the same time, the narrative must have had a plot in the sense that events happened in a linear progression, and yet some of these events seemed like mundane features of everyday life…cooking, caring for the children, etc.—this gave the narrative a higher sense of being ‘real.’ By existing within a determined plot, the reader surrenders control of the narrative. By understanding what outcomes are derived from certain actions (thus having control), the narrative essentially becomes a game which can be manipulated by the player.

    Forgive my memory if it serves me wrong, but I think it was Glenn I was talking to in class last week about this very problem—he has an Interactive Story Development (or something similar) class in which they are dealing with this issue. One solution they found was to have the effect of the interactive choice come much later than when the choice was made. Glenn gave me an example of helping a man during the story…later in the game the man will help the player in some situation—if, however, the player did not help the man earlier in the game, the man will not provide help later. The problem with this is that once the player gets past the point of the man helping her, she knows how her actions have affected the gameplay, and it becomes gimmicky. Also, this is a pretty direct/literal consequence, read: boring. This brings the issue of how certain actions affect narrative. The problem here is, many of the consequences that don’t seem literal will seem too arbitrary, in which case, the player will lose interest in making the choices altogether. But then the root of the problem is the nature of reality, really. I don’t know how my actions affect anything (other than in the most direct instances—I’m nice to you, you’re nice to me, which doesn’t always happen anyway lol) in real life, so how can I simulate that in a narrative? We don’t have a hold on how (for lack of a better term) quantum possibilities unfold, so how the hell can we simulate them? Glenn, be ready, because I want to talk some more about this. Who teaches that class?

    Yet here I’ve gone and compared interactive narrative to video games, which is exactly what Janet Murray did not want people to do. However I feel that video games (of certain genres, RPGs in particular) are the closest thing we have to interactive narrative. As a sidenote, if anyone has played the games I’ve mentioned and disagrees with my analysis of the games, please let me know—these observations are just drawn from my personal experience many moons ago (PS1 is an artifact now ha).

    –Mindy

    Oh also, Online Caroline may have drawn me in more if it were a different story. This just seemed like another bad reality show…Caroline talks about her problems, and bla, bla, bla…don’t care. It is just not intellectually stimulating. The only meaning derived from this (corporate control) seems like an afterthought, a veil over the badness of the story. I know that’s a little harsh, but c’mon…ummm…(must end on positive note..) It is a cool beginning for interactive narrative, though, and I’m glad to have been exposed to it…you have to get through the clunkers before you reach the masterpiece, I guess.

  17. Console Wars…
    As far as marketing goes, it was extremely pompous of Sony to release a console with a starting price of like $600. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t seen the work-up of the demographics of most gamers, but I think it’s safe to say they are not among the world’s wealthiest, in which case it makes it a bit ridiculous for them to rush out and buy a PS3. Especially given that the competitor consoles are available for much less. So the pomposity lies in the fact that Sony believed it would have a console awesome enough, gamers loyal enough, that the added value of Blueray would be enough, for the average gamer to blow $600 on a game console. But the PS3 is last in sales, no? Sony’s problem is that they keep trying to push further into the idea of a ‘universal entertainment machine’ which can support games, DVDs, mp3s, internet, photos, pressure cooker (haha), etc. But we’re just not there yet. In the average consumer’s mind, DVD players, computers, mp3 players, and game consoles are all still distinctly different markets, and Sony can’t just come in and be the deus ex machina of electronics….yet. Maybe the PS3 is supposed to be prepping us for that—I don’t know.

    I like the Wii a lot, but it has a lot of limitations too…it seems more a novelty than anything else—I think it’s really fun in group settings (Wii Sports rules!), but not for ‘serious’ games…although I haven’t played The Twilight Princess or Super Mario Galaxy(playing that tonight!) yet, hopefully those games could prove me wrong.

    Xbox 360 is good, but I hated Microsoft for coming into the game market back in the day. Bye-bye, Sega…

    I used to be an avid gamer (what a nerd), but I don’t really have time for video games anymore. Or should I say I don’t make time for them anymore :(. Although I must say, Rockband is pretty freakn’ awesome.

    –Mindy

  18. The Online Caroline reminded me of the “Powerbook” where the narrative interacted between two people through e-mails. I some futuristic what the future would be like. An example would be sending gifts through e-mails. Narrative reflects from the cyberspace between the two people who are communicating to each other. One example the e-mail refers is determination weather these people are friends or not. In the cyberspace world they feel that are more friends than in reality. In the reality they can be very lonely that may want to talk to someone. The one place they turn to is e-mails, blog, and instant message.

    I first time I saw Deja Vu I didn’t understand the story since I only seen parts of it. This time I finally got to watch movie from the beginning. I thought it was very interesting as they use this past linear machine to investigate. I get why they would call it Deja Vu when they questioned how is it possible to see different angles of the image where there are no cameras. Knowing that this is not possible in reality. It is very interesting that they go back to the past before the crime scene. However I question why is it only they can go back four days ago. Why not six day or eight day? Why can’t it go back further to the past? Also if they could send a letter to themselves in the past, is it possible for a person to back to the past like in the “Time Machine?” I know don’t know what happens next in the movie, but I’m kind of curious if they actually could change the past if it is possible.

  19. Hey..I also agree with ben and brian…i’m not really into it. It kind of remingds me of a reality t.v. show of a couple’s house but very slow mixed in between with playing paper dolls(apparently you can pick out her outfit). It also kinda of reminds me of the show, My So Called Life, the website has that 90’s feel to it. It feels like she made up a second life because i can’t take it that seriously. However in Jill Walker’s “response” I found it interesting when she said, “Rather than sit still in a cinema or lock my eyes to a page in a book, I am trapped in constant motion.” In interactive narratives, if online Caroline is considered one I would agree but there was not that much to the site that kept my attention. I also found it interesting when walker described the website as captivity and forced movement because it seems like the viewer wouldn’t be in captivity but online caroline is. The viewer is free to do whatever one wants or whatever the site allows one to do.

  20. I would have to agree with the assertions that online caroline is extremely limited as far as interactivity. However, I didn’t find it as inflexible as some of the narratives we explored at the beginning of the semester, like the hypertexts and Pax. While you are unable to affect the “show” (that is, the slices of life seen through the webcam), the emails provide a strong source of communication and flexability. While they are scripted, and fake (though I’m not sure that’s the right term to use) they can be called no more false than other interactions on the internet. Like we talked about in class last week, places such as second life, myspace, or dating sites are rife with false portrayal. Though caroline is not a fantasy role created by a single person, it is a creation of a new individual. Of a sort.

  21. I tried to browse around the Online Caroline site and while I felt mild intrigue, I was let down by the site’s simple design. Jill Walker talks about the site as if it is invading her life, when all it seems to do is spit out one of several predetermined responses, based on the small amount of interaction you have with the site. Conceptually, I feel that an interactive story simulation that changes based on your involvement could be quite immersive, though this one is not. I recall the short-lived Majestic, the espionage game/simulation that would actually involve phone calls and other types of actual privacy invasion. That to me is using the medium to offer a true simulation. It was also more than five years ago. Online Caroline seems outdated.
    I did have some problems with the site. Some links did not work, and I got a repeat screen when I filled out the about me page. By reading the responses, I see some people had problems as well. Even so, reading what Walker has said about it, I can assume it is an online serial, that is predetermined, that also interjects little snippets of you into it.
    I think that there is a future for this type of narrative, however flawed Online Caroline is. I’m sure that it has the potential to be ultra personal AND totally immersive. I think that as we become more of an electronic based society, online based narrative that makes YOU a character could be something very interesting.

  22. I wasn’t too floored by Online Caroline either. I like the idea of being able to interact with your narrative, but this website seems a bit dated. And the “plot” isn’t too enticing either. I can’t really relate to a 39-year old. Just browsing through the What Are You Like? section was enough to turn me off of it. It reminds me of those surveys people do on myspace. The Online Caroline thing seems like a very non-intimate experience, which is kind of contradictory, because it looks like that whole intention of it is to build a relationship with this virtual person. Instead it turns out to be a completely scripted experience. You get emails from “her” because you performed some action that was scripted to generate an email in response to that action. Maybe in the 90’s, this would have been revolutionary, but it was hard for me to take Online Caroline seriously. If they want to make these kind of interactive narratives a huge thing, they’re going to have to make it feel like the “reader”/interactor means something–make them feel special, like they’re the only person in the world. Or something.

    As far as the console wars go, I’m a big fan of the Xbox 360. I actually traded my Wii for it. I might get chastised for that, but like Mindy said, the Wii is more of a novelty. And while it is really fun to get a group of people together and play Wii sports, the system wasn’t satisfying in the “serious game” department. Sure there’s Zelda, but that wasn’t enough to keep me happy. Despite its motion-sensored capabilities, the Wii hasn’t really pushed the envelope in terms of revolutionary gameplay.

    I got the 360 mainly for Elder Scrolls Oblivion, because the possibilities are limitless in that game. The game isn’t over after you’ve completed the main storyline (and you don’t even have to complete it either), which I absolutely love. Your completely customizable character can exist within this world as long as you choose. There are side-quests aplenty, different career paths to choose from (with their own respective quests), there’s ruins to explore, etc. I don’t know how many characters I’ve created, just to see all the possibilities I can pursue. And then there’s the matter of Xbox Live always having downloadable content (extra quests, expansion packs, etc.), which grant a higher replay value. So you’re getting a lot for what you spend. That’s my opinion anyway.

    A game you might want to look at is Mass Effect if you want to see where that combination of narrative and video game is going. It was a truly interactive/cinematic experience. I’ll admit that the game didn’t deliver everything that the developers (Bioware) promised, but they’re making a series out of it and I’m sure they’ll deliver in the next installments. Just youtube some of the demonstration videos from previous E3 conventions. The series has a lot of potential.

    Oh, and about Sega…I think they had the chance to dominate. I mean the Dreamcast (which I still own and love) had online play (including a browser and email capabilities) before PS2 got around to implementing theirs. The Dreamcast had Shenmue which is another great example of how the narrative and game can be combined to bring you a truly cinematic experience. It also had Power Stone, which is still my favorite fighting game of all time. Oh well.

    Sorry, I’m totally geeking out.

  23. Only I could manage to access the website and Caroline has gone out… While she was away, I explored a bit, but I must say that I would have to agree with some of my fellow classmates that the site is rather limited, and whilst the concept seems interesting, it doesn’t allow for much interaction… though I did send her bridget jones diary to read… hmpf. ‘a light read, ‘ the site tells me…

    I can see how this could be far more interesting if she would actually come back… watching the screen isn’t very stimulating…

    The ‘Our Diary’ option lent to some entertainment, but really, a simulated interation with a character seems like it wouldn’t partticuarly satisfying…

    And her messages or ‘hassles’ seem rather tame.

    I’m not knocking the idea of an interactive site, but as far as narratives go, I prefer those of a more hypertext bent. You never know where those will go… This seems so predictable.

  24. The first thing I think is dangerous, very dangerous. When Jill mentioned that if she doesn’t interact with Caroline in a few days Caroline bugs her, that really got me. People don’t realize how easy it is to lose yourself in a story. How many times have you read a book and felt awful when a character died, or cried because of something happening to someone in the book? How many of you hit a massive low when Aeris died? How many went online to find out if there was a way to save her? Now imagine if you were part of the story. If I started the game and then decided to quit, and Caroline bugged me, I would honestly feel bad. Even though I know it’s not real, and that it is just a game, it would affect me to one degree or another. If you think you’re immune to that sort of emotional hook you (might have a heart of stone, or you) might just be a harder sell. Perhaps it takes a little longer for you. Ever had a stuffed animal (I know you have)? It probably took you a long time to get rid of it, and when you did you probably felt a little bad about it. My point is that this type of alternate reality game has never really been done before, and we both as creators and consumer should be very, very careful.

  25. I totally agree that is just like the build your own story books from when we were little. I couldn’t think of what it all reminded me of until Christian said it on the blog. But I’m not a big gamer or really into this kind of stuff so it was a bit confusing for me. I saw her bird a lot and that just threw me completely off. I think it’s cool that you have a say in how everything goes but I’m not convinced that we really have a lot to do with her story. At first I thought it was just me and now that I see other people had the same thing happen I’m less impressed. I think the idea behind the virtual interaction is very cool but I guess I just don’t have enough interest to figure it all out?

  26. In the novel, Frankenstein, Mary Shelley considers that the human species will no longer be human. The human species may be rendered indeterminate; it will be questionable what it is and what it is not. Not only does Dr. Frankenstein take away the woman’s role of reproducing but, he plays the role of the mother, and ultimately he plays the role of God, and he plays the role of creator. So Dr. Frankenstein’s ability to animate dead material, or bring life into the world shows a shift to the abolition of religion and the traditional belief, which is that God created humans, this demonstrates a suspicion in why humans are put on earth. Machines are becoming biological and the biological are becoming machines; The monster was man-made, so he was a machine but named human, and Dr. Frankenstein acted like a machine.
    The notion that the biological are becoming machines is perceived in Dr. Frankenstein’s senses. “I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit. It was indeed a passing trance that only made me feel with renewed acuteness so soon as, the unnatural stimulus to operate.” Dr. Frankenstein feels soulless, non-human, or machine-like while pursuing the role as creator. However, Dr. Frankenstein describes that the soul lies within his pursuit, which will become life (the creation). Therefore, machines are becoming biological; the monster was put to live on earth named human by Dr. Frankenstein, the monster was not put on earth by biological or reproductive processes. So if something has a soul does that deem it human and if something does not
    McGuire 2
    have a soul or feels soulless does that make it machine or non-human? Dr. Frankenstein sees the human as being extremely vulnerable; he sees it as being corrupt, degraded, decaying, and wasted. But when he brings the monster to life he plays the role of God using science and technology, which would suppose the monster a cyborg, a mixture between human and machine. So with Dr. Frankenstein’s creation, here a rendering of the human form is implied. The monster shows human characteristics: the monster has emotion, seeks love and affection, has the ability to learn, understands language and has the ability to think critically, and has a conscious. But the monster is man-made. The monster breaks boundaries of being considered human because he knows language, has the ability to think critically, and has a conscious. Shelley anticipates the abandonment on nature as the basis for existence with Dr. Frankenstein’s discovery of creating a human-being; he has learned the secret of life. Dr. Frankenstein’s obsession with knowledge created a monster within himself; he disconnects himself from his family, friends, and society. He withdraws from the social while the monster desires the social (but does not succeed). Dr. Frankenstein shows characteristics of non-human nature by the danger shown through his intellectual pride. There needs to be a balance between moral and natural knowledge because the monster seeks moral philosophey while Dr. Frankenstein seeks natural philosophey; both the monster and Dr. Frankenstein seek something obsessively that it destroys them. They are both acting like monsters or non-human because of the power of knowledge and technology
    mcguire3
    which Frankenstein and the monster grasp compulsively. To identify if one acts human-like or not, offers the question what is human and what is not; where are the boundaries.
    Since the monster is genderless, another alteration in the human form is perceived that questions the monster’s form, human or non-human. However, humans can be transgender or asexual so it is irrelevant in calling Dr. Frankenstein’s creation genderless if that would define a human (by reproductive organs and sexuality). However, at the time the monster was “born” transsexuals did not exist, so even if the monster was physically accepted by society, he would not be accepted as genderless. Due to the time in which the monster was created nothing would have saved him from being shunned from society.

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