week2, moving on to narratives!
To me, Chatman's article is quite difficult to understand at the beginning, but towards the end it becomes clearer and clearer. And i got some opportunities to practise my French through reading the titles of litteratures francaises. well, i would agree that narratives structure is semiotic, but i don't really understand why the separation of content and expression, substance and form could lead to such a conclusion, esp when he tries to put the different of the components into the 2*2 diagram.
enough crap. to the proper stuff.
how the transposition to/from interactive media has changed the narrative, and whether the structure of the narrative remained intact.
hmm, so i assume that we are comparing the narratives in interactive media and 'old' media with reference to some example.
Basically, the example i have chosen is 仙剑奇侠传 (Xian Jian Qi Xia Zhuan, or The Legend of Godly Sword and Marvelous Heroes, by 'brute force' translation). Well in case you don't know (anyway i don't think any non-PRCs would know), it is one of the the first Chinese Role Playing Games. Like Final Fantasy and others, it has multiple versions and editions, and the game fanatics actually reconstruct narratives based on the games. In 2005, it was made into a 30-episode TV show series featuring quite a number of chinese actors and actresses.
So, basically we have a computer game based narrative, changed into TV format, a non-interactive media. The narrative has changed a lot, partly explaining why most of the fans of the game didn't really like the TV version (well such things happen in most cases anyway). One of the major changes is that the TV version could only have one ending, compared to the multiple ending scenarios in the games version. (well in the game it's always a tragic ending but a series of choices by the player have an impact on which hero(es) would die) Given that the existents of narrative, for example, the characters, settings and etc are more or less the same in the game and tv version, i think we can pinpoint to a factor, that the 'events' of the narrative has been changed. In the TV production, although the script writer or producer may choose the order of events, there could only be one set of sequence of the events, while in a computer game, there would be many, depending on how many sidetracks and different storylines the programmers have created. But, of course, usually the producer of the movie or tv series would choose the deemed 'most popular' storyline.
So, it seems that there is some changes in the narrative structure in the interactive media?
Interactive media allows for choice and control on the part of the reader/user. What problem does this raise for self-regulation? What, if anything, does this suggest about designing interactive narrative?
"self-regulation", according to Chatman, "means that the structure maintains and closes itself", and that "the narrative will not admit events or other kinds of phenomena that do no 'belong to it and preserve its laws.'"
In old narratives, self-regulation is maintained by the authority of the writers, directors, script writers and etc. However, as interactive media pampers the readers and users with the power of choice and control, the power of 'authority' is diluted: everyone constructs his/her own narrative, based on a more general framework or structure of interactive media. In Chatman's concept, the structure of narratives is independent in semiotic terms because they are independent of the medium which carries them. However, in interactive media, it seems that the distinction of medium and structure is blurred. (oops it seems to be quite a big assertion to make)
Given that it is the users/players who play and construct their own narratives, interactive narratives would likely to be designed from the point of view of the users, for example, object oriented programming. The design would be give more freedom to the users, and try not to limit what the users can do. Of course this is also in constant conflict with the idea of common platform and framework, and maybe and probably, there's limit to the degree of 'freedom' of construction of narratives the interactive media can give us.
Think of an example of the use of narrative in interactive media. With reference to your example, suggest what the "peculiar nature" of interactive media may be, and which narrative effects it may specialize in.
Well, although Chatman uses the term "peculiar nature", personally I don't feel it peculiar at all: there're no perfect things in the world. Each type of media would have its own strength and shortcomings.
Example of the use of narrative in interactive media… so I take the online Hitchcock's guide. Of course the old "peculiar nature" of the verbal narrative still exists. But now the thing is, you are now yourself the detective and you are making decisions and choices. You may do whatever you feel like to do, as opposed to the older medium in which you must follow the plot; however, you may not finally find out the final outcome of the narrative: you may just get stuck somewhere, lose interest and give up.
As for which narrative effects it may specialize in, interactivity is of course the most obvious one. Nonetheless, as the interactive media could be a composite of texts, pictures and sounds, it may overcome some of the 'peculiar natures' of the other media, bringing better designed and automated characters, settings and so on. Meanwhile, it would allow much more room for 'discourse', and the 'events', as the users are themselves the authors.