Narratology of Games (Guest Lecture, ENG 798: Narrative Analysis)

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Guest lecture on the subject of games and narrative for graduate-level course in Narrative Analysis.


<ul><li> 1. The preceding analysis permits play to be defined as an activity which is essentially: 1. Free: in which playing is not obligatory; If it were, it would at once lose its attractive and Joyous quality as diversion; 2. Separate: circumscribed within limits of space and time, defined and freed in advance; 3. Uncertain: the course of which cannot be determined, nor the result attained beforehand, and some latitude for innovations being left to the player's initiative; 4. Unproductive: creating neither goods, nor wealth, nor new elements or any kind, and, except for the exchange of property among the players, ending In a situation identical to that prevailing at the beginning of the game; 5. Governed by rules: under conventions that suspend ordinary laws, and for the moment establish new legislation, which alone counts; 6. Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality, as against real life. -- Johan Huizinga (1938), as modified by Roger Caillois (1959) Recounting past perspectives on Play </li></ul> <p> 2. Roger Callois Game Categories Agon (competition) Alea (chance) Mimicry (role playing) Ilinx (altering perceptions) Paidia (uncontrolled fantasy) Ludus (requiring skill/effort) 3. Narrative camps, Ludic camps and a short lived battle (only) within the academy Gaming and storytelling have always overlapped there is no reason to limit the resulting form to the dichotomies between story and game we can think instead in matters of degree. A story has greater emphasis on plot; a game has greater emphasis on the actions of the player. Games are not textual or at least not primarily textual: where is the text in chess? a central text does not existmerely a context. (1) rules, (2) a material/semiotic system (a gameworld), and (3) gameplay (the events resulting from application of the rules to the gameworld). Any game consists of three aspects: --Janet Murray (2004) From Game-Story to Cyber Drama --Espen Aarseth (2004) Genre Trouble: Narrativism and the Art of Simulation 4. Video Games come into being when the machine is powered up and the software is executed; they exist when enacted. An active medium is one whose very materiality moves and restructures itselfpixels turning on and off, bits shifting in hardware registers, disks spinning up and spinning down I avoid the word interactive and prefer instead to call the video game, like the computer, an action- based medium (Galloway 2-3). ~ One may start by distinguishing two basic types of action in video games: machine actions [Those performed by the software and hardware of the game] and operator actions [those performed by the player]. Of course, the division is completely artificialboth machine and operator work together in a cybernetic relationship to effect the various actions of the video game in its entirety (5). On Galloway: what is the video game? 5. Overview of Operator Machine Interaction 6. Arsenault &amp; Perron, In the Frame of the Magic Circle. 120-121. 7. To play a video game is to participate in a continuous feedback loop: In order for (player driven) progress to occur within a game, the player Must enact, and the machine, as it is programmed, must respond. However, within the context of the game, there are actions that occur Outside the scope of the narrative world and/or beyond the control Of the player. 8. Gamic Action in Four Movements: Diegetic Nondiegetic Operator Machine Pause, Configure, Cheat Move, Expressive Ambience, Transition Enabling, Disabling Mechanical Embodiments 9. Fludernik 10. Discussion! 11. Who is the Author of a Video Game? The Development Team for Assassins Creed 2 12. Who is the Narrator of a Video Game? 13. The Implied Reader? 14. Diegetic Boundaries? 15. Heterodiegetic? Homodiegetic? 16. Diegesis &amp; Mimesis? 17. Focalizer? 18. Narrative Time? </p>