Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The Narrative and Ludic Nexus in Computer Games: Diverse Worlds II

Jeffrey E. Brand & Scott J. Knight

Brand, J.E. and Knight, S.J. (2005) ‘The Narrative and Ludic Nexus in Computer Games: Diverse Worlds II’, Diagra 2005 Conference [online], URL: [accessed: 17/3/08]

Brand and Knight take Jenkins' narrative architecture axiom and explicates the four forms of narrative. Obviously this is firmly in the context of Computer Game Theory and the conference paper draws the attention to additional interesting functions. Side-stepping the Narraotology vs Ludology debate, my interest lies in these additional interpretations that expand on narrative.

  • In regard to Evoked Narrative, Brand & Knight acknowledge the debate's invitation to still address whether the narrative architecture is determined by authors (writers/designers) or the audience.

  • They also see that Jenkins does see that Evoked Narrative has a polysemic dimension to it; where a coexistence of many possible narratives is dependent upon the competencies of the audience to see them.

  • In regard to Embedded Narrative they see that narrative can be decoded from cues and clues within a game, and a sense of story can then evolve temporally.

  • These decoded story clues and cues within Embedded Narrative can be invoked through the mise-en-scene, which in turn can infer past stories. These are what Jenkins describes as "traces on the landscape".

Brand & Knight do wonder whether there is need for more precision in the conceptualisation of Emergent and Embedded narratives. Some points they raise to address are:

  • Defining Embedded Narrative more narrowly as pre-authored spaces, objects, artefacts that are to be read.

  • How does the narrative transform with the "mark of visitation" (Jenkins) left by a player across the narrative architecture's "storyworld"?

They also consider issues such as environmental control; real-world time vs arbitrary time; the design and purpose (teleology) of time (especially the property of no clear winning state (does this correspond with Caillois' term paidea as cited by Frasca) and the mutability of control.

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