This week I am wrapping up, Playing the Text, Performing the Future: Future Narratives in Print and Digiture, thank goodness. This should be the final and heaviest reading of my research. So heavy, actually, that it will require at least two to three annotated bibliographic entries. Because of the length of the text and the sectional breakdown, I went with bullet points on this one. I have picked up a lot, however.
So, let’s get started.
Meifert-Menhard, Felicitas. Playing the Text, Performing the Future: Future Narratives in Print and Digiture. De Gruyter, 2013, pp. 29 – 167. EBSCOhost, NO DOI.
- 2.5: Shaping and Experiencing the Storyworld: Agency and Immersion
- This chapter explores the value of letting the reader feel agency or a measure of control in the outcome. Agency and immersion are reciprocal in FN (future narratives, though I prefer IF). Bound books develop immersion through a reader’s connection to the printed work, whereas the agency provided with choice seems to allow for faster immersion in IF. Visuality, something IF in particular can provide, further provides immersive qualities.
- 3.1: Narrating the ‘Not-Yet’: Issues of Mediality
- Presenting moments of narrative divergence fits into this idea of the “not-yet.” In print literature, moments of choice are seen as disruptive are readers are generally motivated to read for completing a structurally closed narrative. CYOAs are an exception to this and in a way are foundational to the discussion of IF as the inherent structure of media engages a subject’s willingness to explore choice. On that note regarding format, I always struggled with CYOA stories as I would try to read it for the best ending, which I could scout based on flipping through the solutions and reasoning my way backwards; this is a limitation of the CYOA format in print. IF turns the reader into an agent of the narrative by presenting them with choice with (in most cases) an inability to scout out a “proper” or “best” ending.
- 3.1.2: Problematical Presence
- Continuing the previous train of thought, another constraint of a bound text as IF is the format itself. It does not make for a smooth implementation. In a CYOA book, turning to page 63 might result in an ending, but what if there are 100 more pages after that? Has a reader truly found an ending? Is that all to the story? Books are fantastic for a linear narrative format but are overly restrictive for IF. Humans also crave linear narrative, which may also explain a rarity of IF in a format that has, for thousands of years, championed linear narrative.
- 3.1.3: Imagining Optionality
- Even though novels play out linearly, many of them are forged on speculation as to how characters or events arrived to the points shown within the novel. This does not play out mechanically in the format of the text, but has DNA roots in the idea of choice, or “imaginative simulation” (42). The bulk of this section focuses on linear, chronological narrative, which I should take into my account with my own project. Ideally, I wish to open up a section of the story where users can tackle goals based on whatever order they choose.
- 3.2 Nodes and Bifurcation: The Essence of Future Narratives
- From here I need to specify two terms for my own reference that are used within the text. These are FN (future narratives) and PN (past narratives). For my own purposes, I am going to instead continue the usage of IF as my primary term for interactive narratives (ie. FNs). For PNs I will be substituting TN for traditional narratives.
- The authors establish the lowest organizational point in IF as a node. In the simplest terms possible, a node is a point in the narrative that allows for divergent or alternative routes through a narrative. Contextually speaking, a node in a TN is typically “dead” because the choice has already been made within the narrative. An active node in IF would be, for example, being given a choice of two doors to choose from. Granted, the text establishes that there are minimum elements for a node to be significant in the classification of an IF actually being an IF.
- 3.3: Architecture, Run, Protocol: A Three-Level Narratological Model for FNs
- This chapter focuses on an analytical model explaining what implications there are to attaching nodes to IF. To summarize an important train of thought, the presence of nodes results in the ability for a reader to engage in multiple runs through a story with variations based on the quality and quantity of nodes in the text. IF is given meaning, in this case, by the performance of the reader in shaping the story. Lastly, by engaging in the process of moving through a text, the user leaves their own narrative, which in the text is termed protocol. These three levels are architecture, performance, and protocol.
- 3.4: The Responsiveness of the System: Activity vs. Interactivity
- This chapter emphasizes, regarding the concept of FNs, that interactivity is not a prerequisite for a text to be a FN. A film like Run Lola Run, for example, is considered a FN because it has nodes, but these nodes do not require viewer choice, they just play out in the film. Here the authors posit a concept of responsiveness regarding FN. Interactivity is a sort of vague term due to the “inter” aspect present; if one has a level of discourse with her/himself regarding a moment in the text, that makes the text, in a sense, interactive. The authors here posit the concept of responsiveness; ie. a text may present a reader a choice, but upon a choice being made the text needs to respond accordingly to the reader.
- 3.5: A Word on the Reader or: The Reader as Player
- So far the sections have focused on the format of IF, but this section turns the attention to the agent of narrative engagement and how a reader/player moves through a text. Reader/players may invest themselves, or treat nodes are moments of random choice, ultimately a reader can discard the rules of an IF story and shape the trajectory of the tale in their own way. Reader/players may also have factors weigh into their choices, such as desirability of outcome, or even a desire to heap as much misery upon the head of their avatar as possible.
See you with another post in a couple of hours, I hope.