narrative, interactivity, play, and games: four naughty concepts in need of discipline

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Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games: Four Naughty concepts in Need of Discipline. IAT 810 Veronica Zammitto. The article is about:. Identifying a “desperate” need for discipline games and stories “The” Question: In what ways might we consider a game a “narrative thing”? - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


  • Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games:

    Four Naughty concepts in Need of DisciplineIAT 810Veronica Zammitto

  • The article is about:Identifying a desperate need for disciplinegames and stories

    The Question:In what ways might we consider a game a narrative thing?Instead of replicating narrative forms, how to invent a new one.

    Game and Story are pried and recombined into four concepts for bringing insight to their interrelations and providing critical tools. narrative interactivity play game

  • DisclaimersConcepts, Not Categories. There is a hard stress on these four as concepts, not as categories. Each concept overlaps and intersects the others. Forget the Computer. The article is considering the concepts in a broad spectrum, considering digital and non-digital games. Defining Definitions. Four definitions are given for a conceptual utility rather than an explanation of the phenomena.

  • Narrative J. Hillis Millers definition:state that changes insightfully. There is an initial state, a change, and an insight due to that change.A personification of events rather than a series of events. This is the representational aspect of narrative.The representation is constituted by patterning and repetition.

    Examples of narrative: Book: contains events represented through text, patterned experience, and languageChess: states, resulting insight (outcome), a stylized representation of a war, patterned structures of time (runs), and space (grid).

  • InteractivityFour overlapping modes of narrative interactivity: Mode 1: Cognitive Interactivity Interpretive Participation with a Text: psychological, semiotic, reader response. Ei: reread a book several years later.

    Mode 2: Functional Interactivity Utilitarian Participation with a Text: Functional, structural interactions with the material textual apparatus. Example: table of contents, index, graphic design.

    Mode 3: Explicit Interactivity Participation with Designed Choices and Procedures in a Text. Common sense interaction definition, includes: choices, random event, dynamic simulations.

    Mode 4: Meta-interactivity or Cultural Participation with a Text: outside the experience of a single text. Fan culture.

  • Play Category 1: Game Play Formal Play of Games: what kind of play occurs? (board game, card game, computer game)Category 2: Ludic Activities Informal Play: non game behaviors, less formalized. Category 3: Being Playful Being in a Play State of Mind: Injecting a spirit of play into some other action

    Play is the free space of movement within a more rigid structure. Play exists both because of and also despite the more rigid structures of a system.

    The Challenge: to design the potential for play into the structure of the experience.The Trick: To design structure can guide and engender play, but never completely script it in advance.

  • GamesApproach: What separates the play of games from other kinds of ludic activities.

    Definition:A game is a voluntary interactive activity, in which one or more players follow rules that constrain their behavior, enacting an artificial conflict that ends in a quantifiable outcome.

  • Mixing and MatchingConsider the following concepts as frames or schemas to use to tease particular qualities of the game phenomena:Narrative: games are narrative systemsInteractivity: games embodied the 4 of them, particularly explicit interactivity.Play: games one of the forms of play Games and Stories: Story = experience of a narrative.Dissatisfaction = with the way that games function as storytelling systems. Again the question: how games are narrative? (Not if games are narrative)

  • Example Ms. Pac-ManOne way of framing games is to frame them as game-storiesMany story elements that are not directly related to the gameplay:Cut-scenes Characters on the physical arcade

    What kind of story is?About life and deathAbout consumption and powerAbout relationships (elements and system)Strategic pursuit through a constrained space.Dramatic reversals of fortune

  • Wrap-up and Send-offHow to create new kind of game-play stories?What if dynamic play procedures were used as the very building blocks of storytelling?Example: the Sims, instead of a prescripted narrative, it functions as a kind of story-machine.Critics:Crawford:+ : clear concepts, so far used as pet theories. Zimmerman concentrates on the utility rather than the form- : how useful are those definitions? Julls:The game-story angle is a lens that emphasizes character, graphical production value and retrospection, and hides player activity, gameplay, and replayability. Focus on their weaknesses rather than their strengths.

  • More examplesSpore

    Hunter RPG

    I consider that the title is a reference to the playwright Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello. The play begins with the rehearsal of other play of the same author when 6 characters irrupt on stage looking for an author. They claim to be heard. They are the uncompleted product of an artists imagination who abandoned them when couldnt complete the play.The play spends much time vividly demonstrating the limitations of the theatre as a medium of story-telling. Thus the play can be regarded as simply an exercise in the now much-explored realm of meta-theatre; it is discussed the idea that a fictional character could hold more truth than a person in real life. However, it also delves into the larger questions of defining existence and hints at the responsibilities inherent in creativity.*Metatheater: The word metatheatre was coined by Lionel Abel, it is generally agreed to be a device whereby a play comments on itself, drawing attention to the literal circumstances of its own production, such as the presence of the audience or the fact that the actors are actors, and/or the making explicit of the literary artifice behind the production.So, Zimmerman is using Six as a hint to the limitations of games as a medium of storytelling. And, why not, a call for more responsibility as designers.Artificiality = magic circleConflict = all games embody a contest of powers.Quantifiable outcome= the conflict of a game as an end result; won, lost, numerical score.

    Regarding Hunter RPG:Chris Crawford said : Almost all games rely on spatial navigation with a small set of verbs for moving through a space. They then populate the games space with all sorts of interesting, complex elements that provide the game with richness. This is fine-it works well. But game designers are stuck in this approach-they just cant see beyond spatial navigation. Why does every game on the market have to have a map? Whats so all-encompassing about spatial reasoning?

    I came up with a way to avoid most of the grudgery of level design: to take away spatial navigation completely.Hunter RPG has all the elements of an RPG like questing, leveling, fighting and looting. But your character is not at a particular location at any time. You are not anywhere, you dont walk anywhere. The game is about revealing opportunities.