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#Metagame Book Club
Track 1: Game Studies
Week 2: “Narratology vs. Ludology”
Sherry Jones
Game Studies Facilitator
@autnes...
Watch Live Webinar to This Lecture!
Part 1 of 2
Watch Live Webinar to This Lecture!
Part 2 of 2
Guiding Questions 1
1. According to Marie-Laure Ryan, what is narrativity? And, what is
hypertext?
2. What does Marie-Laur...
Guiding Questions 2
5. Why does Jesper Juul argue that game-story translations is a problem?
6. How does Gonzalo Frasca di...
Game Studies Texts
What is Narratology? Narrativism? Ludology? Narratology vs. Ludology Debate?
● Beyond Myth and Metaphor...
“Beyond Myth and Metaphor - A
Case of Narrative in Digital Media”
by
Marie-Laure Ryan
Main Argument
Marie-Laure Ryan argues that the software industry,
which believes that computers can enhance, advance, or
r...
What is a Narrative?
● “Narrativity is independent of the question of fictionality.”
● “Narrativity is not coextensive wit...
Two Narrative Myths
● Ryan argues that digital media operates on two
Narrative Myths: Myth of the Aleph and Myth of the
Ho...
Narrative Myth: “The Aleph”
Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 1)
● Myth of the Aleph - “The Aleph” is a short story
written by Jorge Luis Borges. It ref...
Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 2)
● Hypertext theorist George Landow argues that
hypertext is a textual object that “reco...
Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 3)
● Ryan finds Landow’s claim problematic; she argues
that logic, time, and causality mat...
Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 4)
Ryan suspects that readers would have very difficult time
with interpreting non-linear ...
Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 5)
Readers would see Hypertexts as puzzles that can be
“solved”:
“What we have, instead, i...
Narrative Myth: “The Holodeck”
Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 1)
● Myth of the Holodeck - The Holodeck refers to the
Virtual Reality space/cave on th...
Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 2)
● According to Janet Murray, the author of Hamlet on
the Holodeck: “The Holodeck, li...
Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 3)
● “The viability of the concept of the Holodeck as
model of digital narrative is que...
Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 4)
● Problem #2 - Psychological - Ryan questions Murray’s
claim that the Holodeck can “...
Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 5)
● Furthermore, the player/interactor in the Holodeck
may develop adaptation issues w...
Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 6)
● Danger of having the interactor experience alt. plots:
● “Interactors would have t...
Lecture By:
Sherry Jones
Game Studies Facilitator
Philosophy, Rhetoric, Game Studies
@autnes
Writings & Webinars
Access Sl...
"Narratology vs Ludology" by Sherry Jones (July 29, 2014)
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"Narratology vs Ludology" by Sherry Jones (July 29, 2014)

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I am the Game Studies Facilitator for the #Metagame Book Club (http://bit.ly/metagamebookclub). This is my Week 2 Lecture on the "Narratology vs. Ludology" debate in Game Studies.

Live Video Lecture - The live recorded youtube video of this lecture is included toward the end of this presentation.

Join the Metagame Book Club - We welcome all educators interested in gaming in education, game-based learning, gamification, and game studies to join the #Metagame Book Club.

#Metagame Book Club (July 15 - August 16, 2014)
http://bit.ly/metagamebookclub

Find us on various social media with the hashtag, #Metagame

Published in: Education
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"Narratology vs Ludology" by Sherry Jones (July 29, 2014)

  1. 1. #Metagame Book Club Track 1: Game Studies Week 2: “Narratology vs. Ludology” Sherry Jones Game Studies Facilitator @autnes http://bit.ly/metagamebookclub
  2. 2. Watch Live Webinar to This Lecture! Part 1 of 2
  3. 3. Watch Live Webinar to This Lecture! Part 2 of 2
  4. 4. Guiding Questions 1 1. According to Marie-Laure Ryan, what is narrativity? And, what is hypertext? 2. What does Marie-Laure Ryan mean by hypertext is a text of which its meaning cannot be exhausted? 3. What are Marie-Laure Ryan's criticisms of designing narrative-driven digital media based on the Aleph analogy and the Holodeck analogy? 4. According to Gonzalo Frasca, how are ludus and narrative similar and different? Why does he call for a ludological study of video games?
  5. 5. Guiding Questions 2 5. Why does Jesper Juul argue that game-story translations is a problem? 6. How does Gonzalo Frasca distinguish narrativity from narratology? Why does this distinction matter? 7. What does this statement mean?: “The real irony of the ‘ludology vs narratology’ ‘debate’ is that virtually all the so-called ludologists are actually trained in narratology.” (See article by Janet H. Murray)
  6. 6. Game Studies Texts What is Narratology? Narrativism? Ludology? Narratology vs. Ludology Debate? ● Beyond Myth and Metaphor - The Case of Narrative in Digital Media by Marie-Laure Ryan ● Ludology Meets Narratology: Similitude and Differences between (Video)games and Narratives by Gonzalo Frasca ● Games Telling Stories? - A Brief Note on Games and Narratives by Jesper Juul ● The Last Word on Ludology v Narratology (2005) by Janet H. Murray (PDF + Slides) ● Ludologists Love Stories, Too: Notes from a Debate that Never Took Place by Gonzalo Frasca
  7. 7. “Beyond Myth and Metaphor - A Case of Narrative in Digital Media” by Marie-Laure Ryan
  8. 8. Main Argument Marie-Laure Ryan argues that the software industry, which believes that computers can enhance, advance, or represent storytelling, is operating under narrative myths that promise much, but are too impractical or inviable for implementation. The software industry also ignores the effect of different types of media on a narrative. To explain the problem, Ryan begins by offering an in-depth definition of narrative, which includes several characteristics, to help us identify narrative and narrativity.
  9. 9. What is a Narrative? ● “Narrativity is independent of the question of fictionality.” ● “Narrativity is not coextensive with literature nor the novel.” ● “Narrativity is independent of tellability. (Narrativity ≠ Storytelling)” ● “A narrative is a sign with a signifier (discourse) and a signified (story, mental image, semantic representation). The signifier can have many different semiotic manifestations. It can consist for instance of a verbal act of story-telling (diegetic narration), or of gestures and dialogue performed by actors (mimetic, or dramatic narration).” ● “The narrativity of a text is located on the level of the signified. Narrativity should therefore be defined in semantic terms. The definition should be medium-free.” (Ryan 1)
  10. 10. Two Narrative Myths ● Ryan argues that digital media operates on two Narrative Myths: Myth of the Aleph and Myth of the Holodeck. The two myths creates over expectations of the degree (and potentiality) of the design of narrativity in digital media. ● A translation problem exists when transferring narrative-to-computers (as digital media have their own parameters/limitations). ● I will discuss Ryan’s two myths in depth.
  11. 11. Narrative Myth: “The Aleph”
  12. 12. Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 1) ● Myth of the Aleph - “The Aleph” is a short story written by Jorge Luis Borges. It refers to “a small, bound object that expands into an infinity of spectacles, and the experiencer could therefore devote a lifetime to its contemplation.” (Ryan 2). ● Ryan argues that the concept of the Hypertext is strikingly similar to the concept of the Aleph. Hypertext theorists argue that the Hypertext is a textual object that can offer infinite, non-linear narrative possibilities.
  13. 13. Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 2) ● Hypertext theorist George Landow argues that hypertext is a textual object that “reconfigures” the text at the discourse level and at the plot level. Since hypertext provides a non-linear narrative, the reader would be able to construct infinite number of discourses and plots by engaging with the hypertext.
  14. 14. Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 3) ● Ryan finds Landow’s claim problematic; she argues that logic, time, and causality matters in the sequence of a plot, in that the sequence helps make a narrative coherent. When taken out of order, logic, time, and causality, which are elements for making a coherent narrative, are disconnected, and thus the entire narrative meaning is lost as well. ● The reader would have to “piece together” disparate pieces to make meaning/sense of the hypertext’s non- linear plot.
  15. 15. Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 4) Ryan suspects that readers would have very difficult time with interpreting non-linear hypertext, much less consider each reading of a hypertext as a new story: “If it seems utopian to expect of readers to be able to provide missing links to connect segments in a narratively meaningful way for each different order of appearance, the Alephic conception of a new story with each reading becomes untenable.” (Ryan 3)
  16. 16. Narrative Myth - The Aleph (Pt. 5) Readers would see Hypertexts as puzzles that can be “solved”: “What we have, instead, is something much closer to the narrative equivalent of a jig-saw puzzle. . . . Just as we can work for a time on a puzzle, leave it, and come back to it later, readers of hypertext do not start a new story from scratch every time they open the program, but rather construe a mental representation over many sessions, completing or amending the picture put together so far.” (Ryan 3)
  17. 17. Narrative Myth: “The Holodeck”
  18. 18. Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 1) ● Myth of the Holodeck - The Holodeck refers to the Virtual Reality space/cave on the “Enterprise,” a starship in the TV show, Star Trek. The cave creates a fictional, virtual 3D simulation that allows visitors to play a fictional character within its environment. Interactivity between humans and simulated virtual characters and environments, help instantly generate the plot (Ryan 3).
  19. 19. Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 2) ● According to Janet Murray, the author of Hamlet on the Holodeck: “The Holodeck, like any literary experience, is potentially valuable in exactly this way. It provides a safe place in which to confront disturbing feelings we would otherwise suppress; it allows us to recognize our most threatening fantasies without becoming paralyzed by them” (25). ● Ryan questions Murray’s assumptions about the value and practicality of a “Holodeck” on several fronts.
  20. 20. Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 3) ● “The viability of the concept of the Holodeck as model of digital narrative is questionable for a number of reasons: technological, algorithmic, but above all psychological.” (Ryan 3) ● Problem #1 - Technological - Ryan points out that true VR immersion (where the player loses him/herself in VR) requires an AI that will automatically construct a plot based on user’s unpredictable actions (in this sense, the AI would serve as a story-generating system). Current VR technology does not allow this.
  21. 21. Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 4) ● Problem #2 - Psychological - Ryan questions Murray’s claim that the Holodeck can “allows us to recognize our most threatening fantasies without becoming paralyzed by them” (Qtd. in Ryan 4). ● In fact, Ryan argues that the VR experience may be psychologically straining for the player/interactor to play a main character in the Holodeck, since being the main character can expose one to greater psychological harm (such as mentally sensing pain, torment, anguish, depression, guilt, etc.).
  22. 22. Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 5) ● Furthermore, the player/interactor in the Holodeck may develop adaptation issues when switching between reality and virtual reality. The player/interactor may find the world of VR too attractive to abandon. ● Ryan offers of Kathryn Janeway from Star Trek as an example of someone who experienced mental pain when she had to “delete” her virtual lover when her virtual life interfered with fulfilling duties in her physical life.
  23. 23. Narrative Myth - The Holodeck (Pt. 6) ● Danger of having the interactor experience alt. plots: ● “Interactors would have to be out of their mind- literally and metaphorically--to want to submit themselves to the fate of a heroine who commits suicide as the result of a love affair turned bad, like Emma Bovary or Anna Karenina. Any attempt to turn empathy, which relies on mental simulation, into first- person, genuinely felt emotion would in the vast majority of cases trespass the fragile boundary that separates pleasure from pain” (Ryan 4).
  24. 24. Lecture By: Sherry Jones Game Studies Facilitator Philosophy, Rhetoric, Game Studies @autnes Writings & Webinars Access Slides: http://bit.ly/gamestudies2

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