Multivariant Narratives

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Multivariant Narratives

  1. 1. Week 11 Presentation <ul><li>'Multivariant Narratives' </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Marie-Laure Ryan </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Plan of Attack <ul><li>Definition of 'Narrative' </li></ul><ul><li>Evolution of narrative mediums </li></ul><ul><li>The Digital Age </li></ul><ul><li>Variable discourse/point of view/plot </li></ul><ul><li>Real-world examples </li></ul><ul><li>Critique and questions </li></ul>
  3. 3. Defining 'Narrative' <ul><li>Medium-free </li></ul><ul><li>Evokes a response from the audience in response to stimuli provided </li></ul><ul><li>Linear (or multilinear) </li></ul><ul><li>Vectoral (plot must go between a beginning and an end) </li></ul><ul><li>Can be told (diegetic mode), shown (mimetic mode) or enacted as a self-rewarding activity . </li></ul>
  4. 4. Defining 'Narrative' <ul><li>Narrative Text </li></ul><ul><ul><li>An artifact designed to bring a desired meaning to the audience's mind. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Narrative Script </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Builds a world where the actions of intelligent 'agents' within a certain time span alters the environment within which they interact. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. History-The Oral Age <ul><li>'...a mnemonic device for the transmission of knowledge.' (Ong, 1982) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>'Mnemonic': Technique to aid the memory </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Had to be memorised, so meter, rhyme and alliteration were important to help the speaker remember. </li></ul><ul><li>Fixed formulae and standardised images </li></ul><ul><li>Flexible (within reason) episodic structure </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative was unique to person speaking, restricted to a live audience and only existed as long as the speaker/audience remembered it. </li></ul>
  6. 6. History-The Chirographic Age <ul><li>Unified, more control over plot devices </li></ul><ul><li>Condensed narrative structure </li></ul><ul><li>Much tighter management of emotional responses </li></ul><ul><li>'Froze' the sequence of plots </li></ul><ul><li>Lessened the need for mnemonic devices in the story </li></ul><ul><li>Still subject to changes based upon person rewriting </li></ul>
  7. 7. History-The Print Age <ul><li>Increase in the length of the narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Episodic pattern adapted from poetry (chapters) </li></ul><ul><li>Made mnemonic devices obsolete </li></ul><ul><li>Increased the complexity of the narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction of visual devices (such as fonts) and pictures </li></ul>
  8. 8. Problems and Limitations <ul><li>Problems regarding 'serious' narration and absolute truth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The only correct viewpoint of the world is that provided by the narrator. All facts provided by them must be taken as 'absolute knowledge'. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Narrative is always a fabrication, unreliable. (White, 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>Printed text is static and can never be 'self-renewable'. </li></ul><ul><li>Text can be 'chunked' and rearranged (eg. 'Catch 22'), but this can prevent it from having a coherent narrative form. </li></ul><ul><li>Branching can be used, but limits power of audience in favor of author control </li></ul>
  9. 9. Present-The Digital Age <ul><li>Algorithm-driven operation </li></ul><ul><li>Reactive and interactive nature </li></ul><ul><li>Performantial aspect </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple sensory and semiotic channels </li></ul><ul><li>Networking capabilities </li></ul><ul><li>Volatile signs </li></ul><ul><li>Modularity </li></ul>
  10. 10. Variable Narration <ul><li>Discourse </li></ul><ul><li>Point of View </li></ul><ul><li>Plot </li></ul>
  11. 11. Variable Discourse <ul><li>The way the narrative is presented. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple possible paths through a story. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Author has control over the individual decisions of the reader, but not their 'global' path through the story. </li></ul><ul><li>Does not tell lots of different stories, but tells a specific story in different ways. </li></ul><ul><li>'Hypertext' often used to achieve variable discourse. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>eg. 'Victory Garden' </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Variable Point of View <ul><li>Lets the audience view a story through multiple perspectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Does not change the story itself. The information provided to the audience is 'coloured' by the character's individual point of view. </li></ul><ul><li>Experiments in 'Interactive Film' where time is not effected by the change in perspective. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A viewer may miss information on first viewing, requires further viewing through different POV. </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Variable Plot <ul><li>Multiple strings to follow in a plot. </li></ul><ul><li>Plot can be changed </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple ways for the narrative to progress and end </li></ul><ul><li>Digital media less limiting then written text </li></ul><ul><li>Video games provide excellent worlds for 'emergent' narrative based upon user interaction </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Interactive fiction, FPS, God games </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Crimeface <ul><li>Interactive Film </li></ul><ul><li>Uses in-video 'hyperlinks' and web interface to allow user interaction </li></ul><ul><li>Convergence of digital media: video, music, interface </li></ul><ul><li>Allows limited re-ordering of events, little-to-no impact on the overall plot arc. </li></ul>Crimeface Official Website http://www.crimeface.net/index.html
  15. 15. Heavy Rain <ul><li>Released for the Playstation 3 in 2010 by Quantic Dream. </li></ul><ul><li>Jumps between different character POVs to enact parts of the story. </li></ul><ul><li>Constant measurement of time passing within given time frame (inc. inches of rain fallen) </li></ul><ul><li>Multiple endings </li></ul><ul><li>Characters can be incapacitated or even die, but story will continue. </li></ul>Heavy Rain Walkthrough - Chapter 3: The Nurse HD (Uploaded by user 'MahaloVideoGames' 7-3-10) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7uG4o2SXJI&feature=relmfu
  16. 16. Duke Nukem 3D <ul><li>First person shooter </li></ul><ul><li>Story-based singleplayer mode </li></ul><ul><li>Networking capabilities (eg. 'deathmatch') </li></ul><ul><li>Players form their own story in the world 'provided' by the game </li></ul><ul><li>Heavy modding capability, allowing players to easily share and create stages </li></ul>3D Realms Official Website http://www.3drealms.com/
  17. 17. Ebert Critique <ul><li>Argument that video games are not 'art'. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Too much malleability in the narrative. Films are able to control the response of the audience by directing the narrative. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How much can we expect to 'change' the narrative of the game before it becomes our story and not the original creators? </li></ul>http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070721/COMMENTARY/70721001
  18. 18. Further Ideas <ul><li>Where do we draw the line between a 'narrative' and an 'interactive experience' or 'game'? Is there even a line? </li></ul><ul><li>Video games clearly provide narrative potential, but can we call them narrative devices? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The player is required to understand how to play the system before they can manipulate it and expose the narrative. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Does narrative still need to be within a set time frame? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If we could create an emergent, persistent digital world where new branches of the story are constantly being created, could it still be considered a narrative even though it would not have a set 'end point'? </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. References <ul><li>Penny Arcade - http://www.penny-arcade.com </li></ul><ul><li>'Game Design as Narrative Architecture' by Henry Jenkins - http://web.mit.edu/cms/People/henry3/games&narrative.html </li></ul><ul><li>'Narrative Leeway in Games'' by Seth Marinello - http://www.altereddreams.net/writing/narrative-leeway-in-games/ </li></ul><ul><li>'Heavy Dreams: Pushing Interactive Narrative' by Brandon Sheffield - http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4203/heavy_dreams_pushing_interactive_.php </li></ul><ul><li>'Multimedia Murder Mysteries' by Peter Gendolla & Jorgen Schofer - Peter Gendolla & Jorgen Schofer </li></ul>

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