Re: [-empyre-] hi

Very interesting approach, Jeff! I am familiar with several books and research around narrative and new media, Hamlet on the Holodeck, Bruce Sterling, Sherry Turkle, Hal Foster and so on. I think the problem is we are still inmerse in the linear narrative of the former century, when the bourgoesie and the industrialism instituted themselves as an universal ruling. Writers as Balzac, Zola, Tolstoi, Broch, Dickens, etablished a kind of narrative which was very simple, the epic and the struggle was often based in the confrontation between a hero and its conditions. The social frame was the bearer of the epical, as in the old Greek tragedies, when the chorus had the role as storyteller.
In some ways games as Ultima, Everquest and many others, goes back to the Middle Ages, but not only in the choosing of scenario or landscape or weapons or clothes, but also in the display of a young warrior or monk who is provided by some magical weapons and must fight a drake or a wizard to rescue the demoiselle in distress.
Its a well known "rite de passage" to mark the change of the young adolescent into the adult age. The narrative is consequent with the aim of the game, to test the heros skills and courage and acclaim him as a victor.
I think that the "open narrative" is still a scary challenge for many people, its easier to be a consumer than to be a creator and need to deal with the anguish and the fears and deceptions all creation implicate.

Jeff Sonstein wrote:

On 5 Jul 2004, at 10:20 AM, soft_skinned_space wrote:

We speak Gender (I do) but we should also speak class,
struggles, confrontation, conficts. Games are poweful tools, I want use
them for fun and for learning. To try to support another agenda than the
most games show today. I am tired of shot ups, cover agents recovering
hostages and being blasted by guys at towers, I am tired to decide if I
want to be a Green Beret today or a Freedom fighter.
I think its the paradox, we are always reproducing the hegemonic models
but not creating new models of behaviour and relations.

I was involved in creating the old VNet system
which allowed the participants to "put on" any avatar
which they could make (in VRML) or find pre-made on the net...

the setting was established by the game-host
but the avatars and storyline were established by
whoever entered and participated in the game-space...
in some senses the opposite approach
to most of the online gaming spaces

there have of course been other game-spaces
which took an approach similar to this
[like Cybertown from Blaxxun, which I also worked on]
and older similarly-situated text-only spaces as well
[see the book "Flame Wars"
 for some interesting discussions of these]

the two questions which come up for me
in reading this current thread
are 1) why the spaces with pre-structured storylines
seem to have been so very much more popular
than the participant-structured one
and 2) whether there are differences between
who tends to like/participate in
one type (pre-structured) versus the other (user-structured)

I do have some ideas on this
but I thought I'd interject some questions into this discussion
and "listen" a bit to what folks on this list think...

does a space need to provide a narrative stucture
to attract people in general to participate...
or to attract specific types of people?

what is it which is so attractive about
spaces with pre-structured narratives?


Jeff Sonstein, Assistant Professor
Department of Information Technology
Rochester Institute of Technology
IT Dept Webspace:             
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"Your children are not your children.
 They are an expression of the television's longing
 for your family. Face facts, the television is far better
 at attracting and holding your children's attention
 than you are. Why not just sign custody over to
 the boob tube, and get on with your life?"
    - Dr. Science -

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