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Story A collection of related events Plot An ordering of events – applies causality to the story Narrative How the story is communicated to the audience (‘Story’ and ‘narrative’ can also used as a catch-all terms – umbrella terms to describe all narrative constructions and elements)
Games must be played in a linear order to unfold or construct the narrative, unlike books the reader can not choose a start point within a games narrative structure. The participation in the narrative is essential to progress it.
Cybertext is a concept that focuses on the “mechanical organization of the text”. Ergon (work) Hodos (path) the reader or player must make an effort to traverse the text, not just in understanding it but also in constructing or unfolding it
Aaseth, E. J. (1997) Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature , Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press
Silicon Knights founder and president Denis Dyack states “In short, we need to develop a Poetics for the games industry, a universal theory of game development, a theory that can provide a blueprint or foundation from which we can build our craft.”
Hermeneutics in digital games is deeply rooted in the process of playing, through interactions with the game the player can start to interpret the embedded signs in the game to determine their meaning and understand the fictional world. In a game this is the internal semiotic domain (as discussed last week)
“ [t]his tension created between the fidelity it displays towards the historical field, and the liberties that are then taken with how a form of historical narrative may be constructed, can be seen to reflect wider changes in the way popular culture has approached questions of historical representation”
Atkins, B. (2003) More Than a Game , Manchester: Manchester University Press
A game (as we have established) is a text, to be read and examined to extract meaning. As a “cultural object” it does not stand alone but sits within a wider culture (or cultures) . A game is designed for a demographic but may be played by users outside that demographic.
“ American Army” will mean something different to an American Teen to an Iraqi.
Games can be but within a context, they may reference Film, Art, Musical Styles and Fashions, Historical Texts etc. these additional texts that are used to give the studied text (in our case the game) context and these references are called intertexts. Games may reference many texts and other media and genres to create an intertextuality.
Aesthetics looks at how a text elicits an emotional response from the reader / user / player, with a game this is usually visual but also auditory and can be the twists and turns of a narrative, or character development etc.
(and through other areas covered in later lectures on film studies, Mise-en-scene, sound etc. but for the moment we are looking at literary theory)
It looks at how the story and narrative are constructed to engage you emotionally with the game, it looks at the emotional responses to the narrative, or segments of the narrative and how they play out in the game to engage the player emotionally. (not just cut scenes)
Exercise – Individually I’d like you to write something interesting about a game. It can be any game, of any genre, from any country, on any platform, from any production company/house, aimed towards any target audience, be a narrative based game or a non-narrative based game, a casual/serious or otherwise game. You don’t have to write about any of these things though (if you don’t want to). You need to write something interesting about a game you have played.