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Over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun, John Walker debates himself on whether games just aren’t a great environment great for telling really great stories, or whether games are the ideal environment for a new form of narrative we’re just developing.  It’s brilliantly designed to drive pageviews – my compliments to the chef on rousing that kind of ire in one’s own readers – but solidly done: excellent points on both sides of the argument, and, taken together, a pretty balanced view of both the opportunities and challenges of interactive narrative mediums.


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William Ulricchio on the role of the author in interactive documentary

William Ulricchio, Director of MIT's Comparative Media Studies Program

William Ulricchio, Director of MIT’s Comparative Media Studies Program

Interactive storytelling, both narrative and documentary, is something I want to better understand – certainly it’s got a lot of potential for new storytelling forms and structures, and that’s pretty darned exciting, but I have some reservations.  I have difficulty with the concept of “author as collaborator with the audience”, in part because, as a consumer of stories, I chafe under the restrictions of a largely powerless collaboration – the communication is generally between audience and product, not between audience and creator, and that doesn’t result in a real co-creation experience.  That’s tremendously frustrating, a false empowerment of the viewer as storyteller.

But “author as curator”, discussed here by Ulricchio, is quite a different context for understanding interactive narrative, one I relate to better.  Pulling together the narrative strands of a curator is interaction, but not, to my mind, a form of co-creating the story – it’s an interpretive role.  (Interpretation certainly isn’t passive, or happening without the personality and thoughts of the interpreter – ask any actor – but it’s not the same process as collaborating on the story.) Continue reading