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.
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