Arrative and videogames

The reasons why games should not be seen as narrative according to Juul (e.

g. that there is no pre-fixed sequence of event and that every game session is different, the gamer being an active participant in the action, whereas in movies there is only one fixed sequence of events which the viewer can experience ) can sometimes be seen as formal rather than structural. He only sees narrative in the traditional sense, denying the use of new, yet to be explored narrative forms.According to Juul, most games have a story, for example in the manual or in the intro-sequence, placing the player’s playing in the context of a larger story (the BACK-STORY) and/or creating an ideal story that the player has to realise. A goal or ideal sequence of events the player has to achieve to successfully end the game. But the actual playing is not the ideal sequence of events. Only a fraction of the play session actually follow the ideal path, but some games do succeed in presenting a fixed sequence of events the player can retell afterwards.Games do share some traits with narratives; for example quest structures, the use of protagonists and game sessions are predominantly experienced linearly.

This ignores the player’s experience of being an active participant. The experience is so strong that most people will involuntarily change bodily position when encountering interactivity. According to Juul playing a game includes the awareness that the game session is just one out of many possible ones. There is not one pre-fixed sequence of events like in movie narratives. This is just a media trait and does not account for al games.

Adventure games for example often only offer one possible sequence of events that will finish the game.Games and time Juul says that in games, story, time and discourse time are one. While other narrative media, such as movies and theatre, do not have a grammatical sense to indicate temporal relations like literature, they still carry the basic sense that the events told are not happening now. In games, the events represented cannot be past or prior, since we as players can influence them. Games construct story time synchronous with narrative and reading time.Time of the game world and time of the player merge (not counting time compression – game time going faster than the real time- or interruptions -e.g. cut scenes).

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It is impossible to influence something that has already happens, which means that interactivity and narration can not happen at the same time. Ryan supposed that interactivity and narrativity are not mutually excusive by arguing that the narrativity in interactivity comes in the retelling of the actions one performed, the retelling of the interactivity with the game world.1Player and Game Movies and other stories are largely about humans that the viewer/reader identifies with cognitively. Games with no actors represented on screen have appeared often. How can computer games be abstract without points of identification ant still be interesting? Because the player is a constant in every game. He does not have to identify with anybody on the screen, because he himself is always present for identification. Games involve the player in a direct way. The goal of the game keeps the game interesting, not necessarily needing a point of identification.

The goal just has to be one that the player would conceivably want to work for.Narrative forms in different media Juul says narratives can be split into a level of discourse and story. The story part can be split into existents (actors and settings) and events (actions and happenings). A story can be recognised by having the same existents and the same events, this is what we usually mean when we talk about “the same story”. If the computer game is a narrative medium, stories from other media must be retell able in computer games and vice versa.(from game to story) Games are “dynamic systems”2, movie translations are not, because they have a story with a specific set of characters and outcomes. The non-descript game characters and open player positions become detailed movie characters and the simulation is converted into specific events.

When a game is translated into an other medium the existents and events will be transferred, but the dynamic systems will not.The retelling of the game narrative in another medium will not be a game, but rather a specific game session, played by specific characters (which are often more developed), with specific outcomes. I have to agree with Juuls on this point, but I don’t think this proves at all that games can’t have narrativity or that they are unequipped for telling stories. I think they just tell stories in a different way, unlike other media. The question is if these specific traits can be translated into other media, like film.

I would like to broaden this concept from a dynamic meeting of different elements and open outcomes, to the experience of the action. In movies ‘dynamic’ action sequences can also create physical, bodily reactions. They can give the user (in this case the viewer) a visceral experience, not unlike the experience the player of a computer game has while playing an action sequence in a game. Even tough there is no interaction with the movie screen since the events are pre-set, I think these restrictions are temporarily lifted in the experience of the viewer of these scenes.

The viewer immerses in the action, experiences it almost physically, making the experience not seem pre-set or restricted, but making it rather ‘dynamic’. This is not unlike the experience of attractions in early cinema, described by Tom Gunning. So I thing that action movies do take some element of game specific narratives and corporate them in the movie narrative, creating dynamic systems which bring game and movie narratives close together.

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