July 26, 2004
The first of these updates from ebr (Electronic Book Review is actually four-in-one: the Game Theories section of First Person, with essays by Henry Jenkins, Jesper Juul, Celia Pearce, and Eric Zimmerman. This section was one of my favorites in First Person, offering some solid ideas as well as provocations.
Sure, Eric’s essay is a bit slap-happy (you’ll see what I mean) but he does really drive towards definitions in a way that is useful for understanding games, and never forgets that that understanding, not the establishing of definitions, is the real purpose. Henry’s essay describes various sorts of interplay between narrative aspects and game aspects, and how this interplay is often mediated through space. Since new media works (such as works of interactive fiction) that have both gaming and narrative aspects particularly interest me, I find Henry’s perspective quite useful. Jesper’s essay is a good sketch of a relationship between in-game time and time as experienced by the interactor — similar in many important ways, I must note, to the discussion of time in the narrative world and the world of narrating that Gerard Genette undertakes in Narrative Discourse. Jesper is undertaking something new, here, be relating interactive experience to time in the simulated world. But if it can be informed by algebra and the theory of computation (mappings and state machines are mentioned) it seems like there may also be something to be learned from existing theories of isochrony and anachrony.
The second bit of criticism is Alan Sondheim’s review of Drawn Inward and Other Poems, by Mike McGuire. I’m very pleased to see this positive review of Mike’s book of palindromic, “redivider,” and other poems, not only because I designed the book, but also because I greatly enjoy Mike’s poems, and hope that others will get to as well.