There was a pause in my posts last week and now many of us are shut in our homes watching and waiting for the Coronavirus curve to flatten so we can resume social activity.
Meanwhile, there’s play. We have game consoles, laptops and mobile phones to keep us occupied and, when we’ve had enough, there’s always a bit of gardening, if you have one. There is no doubt that gaming is big business and technology has come a long way since the 1970’s when games like Pong were around. The massive change, drive and competition to create new gaming technology for the public has provided increased capacity for entertainment and diversion. Mobile gaming, alone, generated over 46 billion in 2017.
“IMG_1168” by DAN_DAN2 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 and can be accessed at https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/photos/ab13895d-b83a-4390-acaa-0bfdb9bdea64
In discussing games, and how they work, I am interested in the formal approach offered by Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek (2004) that provides a games framework of three ‘lenses’ that can be used to create a satisfying experience for players. The concept of Mechanics encapsulates the rules and mathematics of the game, Dynamics is the action that players take within the game, and Aesthetics are the appealing responses of the player to the experiences within the game. What interests me the most is that the paper covers useful ideas that can be taken into consideration when creating my Twine narrative. I might ask myself questions like ‘will my narrative appeal to the reader’s senses and could I provide some challenge or a way to uncover new terrain?’
As Twine narratives offer the reader the potential to change the story line, as a form of ‘choice based’ interactivity, there is a process of discovery as each link is opened and the story unfolds. Moreover, as my narrative is fantasy, the player desire for an element of ‘make-believe’ will be included.
Belinda Barnet’s article In the Garden of Forking Paths: Contingency, Interactivity and Play in Hypertext, states that the spontaneity and uncertainty of choice in accessing hypertext creates a continuously renewed ‘electronic palimpsest’ in our minds to offer a myriad of options. We see the possibilities as we navigate through the links. I found some examples of art that feature the palimpsest concept. It is a nice example of straightforward remediation. You can view them here.
Although a Twine narrative will have some constraints, such as limited opportunity for self-expression, Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek’s article also offers an understanding of what readers, or players, might enjoy. There should be some challenge, but not too much because abnegation, or zoning out, is an important aspect of aesthetics. However, with the reasonably short nature of my Twine narrative, this probably won’t be an issue.
As I found myself sifting through the course content in order to specifically navigate hypertext. this week, I realised that my choices reflected a desire for interactivity. Being a somewhat indecisive person, I read in fits and spurts and it takes a while for things to sink in. However, this non-linear type of reading is a great deal more interesting than reading material that offers less choice.
I briefly investigated the revolution in game development, as mentioned in our virtual class this week, and found an article in The Guardian called Anna Anthropy and the Twine Revolution. Anna’s ‘call to arms’ in 2012 encouraged people from diverse backgrounds to express themselves through tools such as Game Maker and Twine. The idea that DIY videogame development may be utilised by individuals to relate their own experiences to the wider community has yet to be fully realised. Although this appears to be a viable option to create some understanding of the marginalised experience in wider societies, and a sharing of experiences could promote community networks that band together to create change, these types of games continue to differ vastly from mainstream game releases. Check out dys4ia, a game that offers some of Anna’s transgender experience.
“Tetris en la calle #tetris #medialabprado…” by flegido is licensed under CC BY 2.0 and can be accessed at https://ccsearch.creativecommons.org/photos/15dd620d-c3fb-403a-b6ca-0aff59b698f4
Barnet, Belinda, and Sandy Stone. “In the garden of forking paths: contingency, interactivity and play in hypertext.” (1998). http://journal.media-culture.org.au/9812/garden
Hunicke, Robin, Marc LeBlanc, and Robert Zubek. “MDA: A formal approach to game design and game research.” Proceedings of the AAAI Workshop on Challenges in Game AI. Vol. 4. No. 1. 2004. https://www.aaai.org/Papers/Workshops/2004/WS-04-04/WS04-04-001.pdf