Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Daddy, Re-Tell Me PacMan

“The Central play mechanic of the MMORPG is what I refer to as social storytelling, or collaborative fiction.”

Pearce does a good job of distancing ludology from narrative theory with her explanation of how traditional and game narrative is very different. On thing I think she missed though is in the creation of artifact. In a discipline like English, the student studies reproducible artifacts of authorial work. In science, a young Hawking would read experimentation, recreate it and then read and share results. When studying game theory there is almost a lack of this that is almost akin to the study of String Theory (Popular String Theory is that there are no experiments to prove it, there can be none and if there was one it would disprove String Theory).

A game can be saved but when this happens (I have not read the article that talks about Game Time yet so this may be covered elsewhere) it is really a placeholder in a frozen action narrative. There is no rewind or turning back of pages. One of the ways a study of something like literature gives us is time to reflect and an artifact to re-examine. So in this case the game rather than the game play then becomes the artifact.

So if it is the game rather than game play that is able to be studied, then why is there any concern for the mechanics of storytelling in the game play rather than just the description of the narrative structures the game itself?

In TicTacToe (visit there is an artifact of the game left. With detailed chess diagrams you can perfectly recreate games from a century ago. Even a game as reliant on the physical as baseball, can have the game recreated through box score. Who saves your WoW games like that or your Sims. They are simply frozen glimpses not repayable entities.

Perce does deal with Sims plays creating virtual scrapbooks (Stop taking sitting in rooms and pasting pictures on page and actually play with your children….ahem) and I think this is an inherent drive to create artifact here. There is also piece of software to take gameplay images and make them into comic books. Will we begin to see more of this?`Also does fiction require this artifact or just academia?


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Taco said...

You've brought up another thing that I have trouble with, particularly in Sims. Why on earth do people go to the trouble of taking these images and plastering them all over the "sim-wall". Desma does this. Two of her sims just got married, she did a photo shoot of the wedding and put the pictures up in the bedroom of their new house. I don't understand it, and I'm not sure that she has any particular goal with it, just an underlying form of entertainment.


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