Talking Writing is an online magazine for professional writers. John Michael Bell writes there: “A decade ago, film critic Roger Ebert famously said this interactive aspect of games prevented them from being art. […] In 2014, the best narrative games challenge Ebert’s claim that “serious film and literature” demand “authorial control.” Narrative video games run the gamut from first-person shooters to role-playing games that involve more than blasting another alien to very un-video-game-like stories such as Gone Home. Just as novels were once a new a form of storytelling that included a character’s inner life, narrative games have transformed author-controlled plots with player interaction.”
Read the full article at http://talkingwriting.com/are-video-games-new-novel
“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
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
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
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
Connie Veugen’s PhD Thesis (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) explores how games tell stories and how this differs from narratives in books and films. http://www.veugen.net/dd/
David Jackson published an interview to indie designer Jason Rohrer: “With art games in general the idea was really about coming up with something that I wanted to explore that couldn’t be put into words, because if it could be put into words I would just go ahead and write it or say it. Something that seemed like it could be expressed well through interactive game mechanics directly and then crafting mechanics that would express what I was trying to express through the systems I was building”.
Read the full interview at http://playablestories.org.uk/part-1-of-my-interview-with-jason-rohrer/
Let’s Play a Story Together: Narrative Construction in a Board Game is an interesting thesis by Samu Lattu from the University of Helsinki.
He writes: “This study delves into the relationship between stories and games with a cognitive perspective. The subject of narrative in games in the past decade has overheated running in place. With this in mind a game medium previously untapped – board games – was chosen as the means of study and an approach to narrative untested in the context of games previously was chosen as the lenses of inquiry. The study considers what in board games gets players to interpret the flow of the game as narrative; how players pick and choose parts of the game experience and use them to construct a chain of events; how players picture a world and its inhabitants; how players experience the character they play; what is their relationship with the game world; what games tell us about the narrativity of games and whether a narrative tool or way of meaning is particular to games”.
Read the full thesis at http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe2014053026064
“The Writer Will Do Something” is a Twine story by Matthew Burns in which you play as the lead writer for an upcoming AAA game. “The year is 2012. You are the lead writer for the third game in the wildly popular ShatterGate™ franchise. Expectations are through the roof: fans of the series are waiting for the biggest, most bad-ass entry in the series yet, and your publisher is expecting the best-selling title in its history. But the game’s development hasn’t gone as smoothly as planned. One morning, just a couple months before E3 and six months before ship, an emergency meeting is called…”
Play it at http://mrwasteland.itch.io/twwds