“Storyworlds across Media. Toward a Media-Conscious Narratology”, edited by Marie-Laure Ryan and Jan-Noël Thon.
The proliferation of media and their ever-increasing role in our daily life has produced a strong sense that understanding media—everything from oral storytelling, literary narrative, newspapers, and comics to radio, film, TV, and video games—is key to understanding the dynamics of culture and society. Storyworlds across Media explores how media, old and new, give birth to various types of storyworlds and provide different ways of experiencing them, inviting readers to join an ongoing theoretical conversation focused on the question: how can narratology achieve media-consciousness?
Go to the publisher’s website: http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Storyworlds-across-Media,675892.aspx
Emily Short, author and researcher of Interactive Narratives, has published a review of “Necklace of Skulls” and “The Sinister Fairground”, both by Cubus Games. She writes: “Necklace of Skulls is a fairly substantial piece. I played five or six times and never actually won, though I think I got close, and in each case there was pretty significant variation in my experience of the midgame. It’s possible to take several different routes on your journey to look for your brother (picking up, of course, a wide range of codewords and inventory items along the way). In the late game, this can yield satisfyingly fairy-tale payoffs in which creatures you earlier helped came to your rescue, or mysterious gifts from elderly peasants turn out to be the basis of an ingenious bit of self-rescue”.
Read the full review at https://emshort.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/necklace-of-skulls-the-sinister-fairground-cubus-games/
A paper by Roy Shilkrot, Nick Montfort and Pattie Maes on Augmented Reality and Narratology. From the abstract: “This paper presents an examination of augmented reality (AR) as a rising form of interactive narrative that combines computer-generated elements with reality, fictional with non-fictional objects, in the same immersive experience. Based on contemporary theory in narratology, we propose to view this blending of reality worlds as a metalepsis, a transgression of reality and fiction boundaries, and argue that authors could benefit from using existing conventions of narration to emphasize the transgressed boundaries, as is done in other media. Our contribution is three-fold, first we analyze the inherent connection between narrative, immersion, interactivity, fictionality and AR using narrative theory, and second we comparatively survey actual works in AR narratives from the past 15 years based on these elements from the theory”.
Read the full paper at http://fluid.media.mit.edu/sites/default/files/nARratives_ISMAR2014.pdf
Digital production agency B-Reel created a short interactive music video for Bobby Womack’s track ‘The Bravest Man in the Universe’. In this short experience, the music is augmented by a short narrative with interactive affordances such as tapping, pinching and dragging various black holes, rotating and navigating asteroid fields, planets and stars.
‘The Bravest Man in the Universe’ is available for free at http://www.bravestman.com/, but it works only on mobile devices.
…But That Was [Yesterday] is a piece of interactive narrative about remembering the things that really matter in life, and the people who gave them to you. The author writes “It is a game that attempts to show one how to move forward in life. In trying to communicate specific emotions with the player, text and input are minimized, relying instead upon player-driven interactions and a dynamic soundtrack”.
Play it online for free at http://www.onemrbean.com/?p=114
A new issue of the Journal of Games Criticism http://gamescriticism.org/ has been published.
Volume 2, Issue 1 features a series of exciting articles from game developers, game critics, and game studies scholars. Velli-Matti Karhulahti offers hermeneutics as a method for ludocriticism, and Michael Heron and Pauline Belford discuss the history of choose your own adventure and narrative games. Next, Stephanie Jennings tackles the importance of subjectivity for the critic. Victor Navarro-Remesal and Antonio Loriguillo-Lόpez explore the intersection of Manga, Anime, and Gému within Cool Japan. Our invited articles include Robert Rath who develops explanatory game criticism as a solution to barriers for tangential learning and David Parisi who delves deeply into the importance and stability of the video game controller across new generations of platforms.
Read the full issue for free at http://www.gamescriticism.org/issue-2-1
Albino Lullabyis a game that seems to rely on the mixture of narrative genres to produce uncertainty, a sense of uncanny and horror. Adam Smith writes: “My favourite thing about the demo was the tonal uncertainty. Rather than being pure terror, or adrenaline-pumping tension, Albino Lullaby is packed with odd little jokes alongside unnerving suggestions and grotesque realisations. The world is confusing – having elements of Victorian gothic and steampunk alongside its abattoir parlours – but there’s a thread of internal logic running through”.
Read the full article at http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2015/03/04/a-twisted-family-tree-albino-lullaby/ and get the preview episode at http://albinolullaby.com/
Annika Waern is a professor at Uppsala University, previously at Mobile Life/Stockholm, and she’s one of the top researchers on narrative, experience and live-action role playing games.
She writes: “I look at emergent narrative as storymaking; as stories that do not just ‘happen’, but that we actively and consciously create from (or during) an experience of events. It is not something that every player is good at or even wants to do, not even in live action roleplaying games. Players engage in different ways in larp just as they do in computer games. In particular, there is an interesting and confusing interplay between storymaking and character immersion, which I’m not attempting to figure out in this post.”
Read the full post at https://annikawaern.wordpress.com/2014/12/22/storymaking-in-larp-an-overdue-post/
The narrative qualities (or lack thereof) of computer games are a debated topic that is clearly very close to my interests. I have often lamented the lack of a complete, authoritative, up to date and balanced reference on this point. I’ve very recently discovered a very good entry by Britta Neitzel on the Living Handbook of Narratology on this topic that makes a good job of summing up a very reasonable approach to this topic. “Narrativity can be understood as a virtual capacity of computer games. Like every game, computer games consist of rule-governed actions carried out by a player. But they may also contain elements typical for narratives: actions, events, characters, and a setting. If these elements are arranged in a story-like order, a computer game possesses narrativity. Additionally, computer games, in contrast to other games (such as ball games or chess), integrate a representational level depicting the player’s actions in the game world and the player herself in the form of an avatar who acts within this world. This representational level can be compared with the level of narrative discourse”.
Read the full entry at http://www.lhn.uni-hamburg.de/article/narrativity-computer-games
Peter Eliot has compiled a carefully crafted annotation of the cult game ICO. He writes: “ICO is at once intriguing and confusing because it insists on holding silence on its own narrative. It shows and suggests enough to convince us that something big is going on but will not tell us what it is. So I propose an exercise: I am going to take a walk through the story and point out noteworthy elements that may help us make sense of what is happening. I will not be a neutral observer; I will advance my thoughts on what I observe”.
Read Peter’s annotated gameplay at http://www.rose-tainted.net/ico/essays/petereliot_annotation.html