Saturday, 9 October 2010

Hamlet on the Holodeck.....

After my meeting with my supervisor, I thought I would read up on the subject of narrative in order to see what I have to cover, to see how much ground there is. I am planning to write my research plan this weekend (later on today in fact...)
Well after reading just two books, 'Hamlet on the Holodeck' and 'The interactive book'. I have realized that there are so many issues with new media narratives that must be addressed. To name the big two agency and immersion.
Due to the massive field this has opened up. I'm planning on attending a lecture on Monday about theatre and game immersion.

But very basically, I have to consider how immersive the narrative should be. Sometimes if they narrative is too real, people can be disengaged by it's realism, and feel 'wronged'. As if they have received a little more than what they bargained for, they willing suspend their disbelief, because they know it isn't real. With this in mind I want to recreate a fantastical story for the pilot novel, that cannot have any basis in reality. So my audience cannot feel 'betrayed' in any way.

Before  I decided this I thought I would go and watch my housemates play games (they are the closest thing to new media narratives in our house) and see how immersed they became within the narrative.
It was surprising just how immersed they got, regardless of how complicated or simple the plot was. From the boys playing Halo Reach to the girls playing Mario Kart... (one of the two girls has never really played video games in her life it seemed she quite liked winning) they all seemed completely immersed, even though the narrative of Mario Kart is simply 'win the race'.

Despite the fact that we are intelligent academic students, we can be so easily sucked into these narratives. This is probably because of the level of 'agency' a person has in games. They control the destiny of the avatars they are playing as. They are in affect 'puppeteers'. They can control the destiny of their characters, and this is appealing. They can save an imaginary world of Halo from evil, or give Yoshi the cute green dinosaur appreciation he so rightly deserves and get him first place in the race.

This presents me with a problem. In my project, the end of the story is already decided, it is a classic narrative, some people will already know the ending of the narrative, before they have even started. What incentive do they have to play it?

The answer to this.... 'the journey that they will take in order to get to the end'. Or put in another way 'the narrative experience'.

I bought a new game for my PSP on Thursday, it was a prequel to a game I have already played called 'Kingdom Hearts'. 
As a female game player, the 'Kingdom Hearts' franchise marries two franchises I already love, Disney and Square Enix (makers of Final Fantasy) into one game.

The new game is called 'Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep'.
It is a one player game for the most part, this makes it even more immersive than playing with a friend (there is a multiplayer option, but it has nothing to do with the narrative).

I already know what will happen at the end of the game, because I have played the sequels (Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts 2), yet the journey is a mystery to me... just how will this game progress? How will the events of this game connect me to the story of Kingdom Hearts that I already enjoy?
This is the reason I am playing it.

I have already played the game for a good hour, and there has only been about 20 minutes of gameplay. There are so many cutscenes in this game. Again, makes the game immersive, it's almost as if gameplay breaks up the narrative a bit (However, I am at the beginning of the game... I'm sure this will change soon).

So... I have a lot to think about when creating this new media narrative... but here are just a few things I've been thinking about reccently, there will be more to follow.

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