May 6, 2004

Cyberdrama @ ebr

by Noah Wardrip-Fruin · , 9:29 am

First Person has just made its online debut, with the Cyberdrama section appearing on electronic book review this week. The material online includes essays by Janet Murray, Ken Perlin, and GTxA’s own Michael Mateas, as well as response material from Espen Aarseth, Bryan Loyall, Will Wright, Victoria Vesna, Gonzalo Frasca, Brenda Laurel, and the essayists.

One reason that Pat Harrigan (my First Person coeditor) and I are excited to be working with ebr is that they’ve been quite successful at growing meaningful academic exchanges around their past publishing projects. Of course, the blogsphere has some interesting tools as well (as our recent thread on narratology and game studies demonstrates) but ebr creates a space for somewhat less rapid-fire dialogues, which grow into shapes different both from those that develop in glacial print publication and in hyperheated comment threads. I hear that Jane McGonigal and Mark Barrett are already working on responses to Cyberdrama. Hopefully some GTxA readers will decide to jump in as well!

Just to whet the appetites of those participating in the narratology/games thread, it’s in Espen’s response to Janet’s essay that he writes “‘Games are always stories,’ Janet Murray claims. If this really were true, perhaps professional baseball and football teams would do well to hire narratologists as coaches. And does she also mean that stories are always games, or are games simply a subcategory of stories?” Janet writes in response, “Aarseth misinterprets my position. I do not see games as a subset of stories, or a critique of games as a ‘colony’ of narrative critique… Football teams may not hire narratologists, as Espen playfully suggests, but they do make tremendous use of narrative. The coach spends much of his time scripting, narrating, and rehearsing potential ‘plays,’ and they depend on sportscasters and sports writers to sustain fan interest by turning individual and collective stories into oral and written epics.”

Also, Michael’s essay is the one that Warren Spector referenced during “Game Narrative: What Would Aristotle Do?” at this year’s GDC.