Reflection: 4 Concepts of Interactive Narratives

3In his short text, Eric Zimmerman attempted to break down the terminologies of game-story while reconstructing the two by introducing four new concepts – narrative, interactivity, play and game, that were essential to bridge a connection between narrative and interaction. He began with raising the issue that concerned people’s dissatisfaction with the current state of game-story. His aim was to provide a deeper understanding to the relationship between game and story while resolving the problem we face to integrate the two.

I particularly loved how he juxtaposed narrative to a game of chess. When he started to break the concept of chess down was when I realize how much of a story it is rather than a game just by itself. Chess consists of a beginning state (the setup), changes to that state (the gameplay), and a resulting insight (the outcome of the game). He then went on to further explain how chess is a stylized representation of war. Upon this realization, I noticed that all, if not, most games could be a conceptualization of a story.

I also loved how he managed to distinguish the four modes of interactivity as well as how he unconventionally described play as something that opposes the bounds created for a game. Play does not only act as a utilitarian function of the system but also as an expression of the system. He even mentioned how when we take part in a game, we are submitting our behavior to the restrictions of the game.

What struck me most was that he did not raise the debate of whether a game should be considered a narrative or not, but instead he questioned how a game by itself can be narrative and how it can be narrative systems in ways which other medias could not. This excerpt from his text broaden my perspective on what narrative and interactive are and how they correlate.