What Hockey Wants: Drama, Narrative, and Sports (DiGRA 2014 Talk)

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This talk presents an examination of hockey as it exists in early 21st century North America, paying particular attention to how narrative both emerges from, and is embedded within, the situations produced by the sport. Like all sports, hockey offers opportunities for individuals to take part in dramatic situations that would not otherwise occur. As players, teams, and fans actively engage with these situations, they produce various kinds of public and private narrative. These narratives in turn shape subsequent situations both within and beyond the formal boundaries of the sport. Through a series of examples from professional, amateur, and videogame versions of hockey, this talk examines how narrative emerges in, around, and among various contexts of hockey gameplay; how this narrative accrues and impacts both ludic and paraludic situations; and how it can become encoded in the formal structures of the game itself.

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What Hockey Wants: Drama, Narrative, and Sports (DiGRA 2014 Talk)

  1. JEFF WATSON ASSISTANT PROFESSOR INTERACTIVE MEDIA AND GAMES USC SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS @REMOTEDEVICE
  2. COMPLETELY UNSCIENTIFIC CHARTS COMPARING GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR THE KEYWORD “HOCKEY” WITH OTHER KEYWORD SEARCHES
  3. 0 5 10 15 20 hockey (18M) "video game" (69k) videogame (20k) # of news search results # of news search results (in millions) Google.com. 28 July 2014.
  4. 0 2 4 6 8 10 12 hockey (109M) "video game" (70M) videogame (12M) # of web search results # of web search results (in tens of millions) Google.com. 28 July 2014.
  5. 0 100 200 300 400 500 # of web search results # of web search results (in tens of millions) Google.com. 28 July 2014.
  6. GAMES AND NARRATIVE
  7. NARRATIVE IS JUST AS CENTRAL TO HOCKEY AS IT IS TO THESE GAMES.
  8. SPORTS LIKE HOCKEY SET THE HIGH WATERMARK FOR PROCEDURAL CONTENT GENERATION.
  9. SPORTS MAKE NARRATIVE – AND THEY ARE MADE OF NARRATIVE.
  10. DEFINITIONS: SPORT SITUATION DRAMA
  11. DEFINITIONS: SPORT SITUATION DRAMA
  12. SPORT
  13. A SPORT IS A COMPETITIVE ACTIVITY, USUALLY BUT NOT NECESSARILY INVOLVING SOME KIND OF ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE, WHEREIN THE SKILL OF ONE PLAYER OR TEAM OF PLAYERS IS TESTED, THROUGH INDIVIDUAL CONTESTS OR SETS OF LINKED CONTESTS, AGAINST THE SKILL OF ONE OR MORE OTHER PLAYERS OR TEAMS OF PLAYERS*
  14. A SPORT IS A COMPETITIVE ACTIVITY, USUALLY BUT NOT NECESSARILY INVOLVING SOME KIND OF ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE, WHEREIN THE SKILL OF ONE PLAYER OR TEAM OF PLAYERS IS TESTED, THROUGH INDIVIDUAL CONTESTS OR SETS OF LINKED CONTESTS, AGAINST THE SKILL OF ONE OR MORE OTHER PLAYERS OR TEAMS OF PLAYERS*
  15. A SPORT IS A COMPETITIVE ACTIVITY, USUALLY BUT NOT NECESSARILY INVOLVING SOME KIND OF ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE, WHEREIN THE SKILL OF ONE PLAYER OR TEAM OF PLAYERS IS TESTED, THROUGH INDIVIDUAL CONTESTS OR SETS OF LINKED CONTESTS, AGAINST THE SKILL OF ONE OR MORE OTHER PLAYERS OR TEAMS OF PLAYERS* *except when it isn’t
  16. A SET OF RULES, PROCEDURES, LIMITS, AND TRADITIONS THAT GIVES RISE TO DRAMATIC SITUATIONS
  17. A SET OF RULES, PROCEDURES, LIMITS, AND TRADITIONS THAT GIVES RISE TO DRAMATIC SITUATIONS
  18. DEFINITIONS: SPORT SITUATION DRAMA
  19. SITUATION
  20. AN OPPORTUNITY TO ACT
  21. The writer is in a situation in their epoch. Jean-Paul Sartre Editorial in Les Temps Modernes, Issue 1 (1945)
  22. AN OPPORTUNITY TO AFFIRM OR BREAK WITH EXPECTATIONS (or “SCRIPTS”)
  23. “We’ve got ourselves a situation…”
  24. “CHARACTER IS DESTINY” Heraclitus
  25. “[There] is freedom only in a situation, and there is a situation only through freedom . . . There can be a free for-itself only as engaged in a resisting world. Outside of this engagement the notions of freedom, of determination, of necessity lose all meaning.” Sartre 1956, 621
  26. DEFINITIONS: SPORT SITUATION DRAMA
  27. DRAMA
  28. an exciting, emotional, or unexpected series of events or set of circumstances. DRAMA
  29. “TROUBLE PROVIDES THE ENGINE OF DRAMA.” Bruner 1991, 16
  30. HOCKEY IS A POWERFUL FORMULA FOR TROUBLE
  31. HOCKEY IS A POWERFUL FORMULA FOR DRAMA
  32. “[If] one were not told beforehand that they were playing, one would certainly believe that they were fighting.” (Conover 1997)
  33. DANGER -> DRAMA
  34. TROUBLE -> DRAMA
  35. UNCERTAINTY -> DRAMA
  36. Evan Torner
  37. THE DRAMATIC SITUATIONS PRODUCED BY HOCKEY RESOLVE INTO VARIOUS FORMS OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE NARRATIVE.
  38. POWER PLAY
  39. TROUBLE
  40. UNCERTAINTY
  41. SCRIPTS
  42. “[when] you see a guy go down like that and the way he went down and what he did . . . the guys are going to want to rally around that.” Bruins Coach Claude Julien, following the incident
  43. EACH SUCCESSIVE LAYER OF NARRATIVE MODULATES THE SITUATIONAL COMPLEXITY AND HERMENEUTIC RICHNESS OF GAMEPLAY.
  44. “MOMENTUM”
  45. “CHOKE”
  46. “CLUTCH”
  47. NARRATIVE FROM “OUTSIDE” THE GAME CAN ALSO IMPACT SITUATIONS OF PLAY
  48. “. . . IN ADDITION TO, IN COMPETITION WITH, OTHER RULES AND IN RELATION TO MULTIPLE CONTEXTS, ACROSS VARYING CULTURES, AND INTO DIFFERENT GROUPS.” (Consalvo 2009, 416)
  49. IN SPORTS, THERE IS A VERY TIGHT FEEDBACK RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SITUATION AND NARRATIVE
  50. SITUATION
  51. SITUATION NARRATIVE
  52. SITUATION NARRATIVE
  53. THIS FEEDBACK LOOP FUNCTIONS IN MULTIPLE CONTEXTS, REGISTERS, AND TIME-SCALES
  54. NARRATIVE ACCRUAL
  55. Even our own homely accounts of happenings in our own lives are eventually converted into more or less coherent autobiographies. Bruner 1991, 18
  56. [The] principles of jurisprudence . . . guarantee a tradition by assuring that once a "case" has been interpreted in one way, future cases that are "similar" shall be interpreted and decided equivalently. Insofar as the law insists on such accrual of cases as "precedents," and insofar as "cases" are narratives, the legal system imposes an orderly process of narrative accrual. Bruner 1991, 18
  57. NARRATIVE IS THE MEANS BY WHICH A SPORT ITERATES, EVOLVES, AND SPREADS.
  58. SPORTS ARE NOT STATIC SYSTEMS
  59. THE RULES OF THE GAME CAN BE SEEN AS A KIND OF “LOSSY” NARRATIVE…
  60. …A DISTILLATION OF SUCCESSIVE ACTS OF NARRATION…
  61. …A KIND OF ENCODING OR “ENCRYPTION”.
  62. RULES
  63. SITUATION RULES
  64. SITUATION NARRATIVE RULES
  65. SITUATION NARRATIVE RULES
  66. SITUATION NARRATIVE RULES
  67. EMERGENT EMBEDDED ENCRYPTED
  68. EMERGENT EMBEDDED ENCRYPTED Ludonarrative Dynamo
  69. THE MORE NARRATIVE A SPORT GENERATES, THE MORE WELL-PLAYED IT WILL BE.
  70. IF WE THINK OF A SPORT AS A SPECIES OF LIFE THAT “WANTS” TO REPRODUCE AND SURVIVE, THEN MAYBE WE CAN SAY…
  71. NARRATIVE IS HOW HOCKEY GETS WHAT HOCKEY WANTS
  72. WHAT HOCKEY WANTS JEFF WATSON ASSISTANT PROFESSOR INTERACTIVE MEDIA AND GAMES USC SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS @REMOTEDEVICE Thank you.
  73. WHAT HOCKEY WANTS JEFF WATSON ASSISTANT PROFESSOR INTERACTIVE MEDIA AND GAMES USC SCHOOL OF CINEMATIC ARTS @REMOTEDEVICE

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