Assignment 3: Reflection on New Media Art Essay

The first point brought up by Henry Jenkins in Game Design as Narrative Architecture is the relationship between games and story.

“Interactivity is almost the opposite of narrative; narrative flows under the direction of the author, while interactivity depends on the player for motive power.” – Adams, 1999

As a game and as a narrative, there are conflicting interests. Giving freedom to the player to control how the world builds will derail from an intentional narrative, however limiting said freedom may be harmful an experience in a game.

While there is some truth to the statement, I don’t quite agree with it for it assumes that there is no complements between interactivity with narrative.

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Retro text-based adventure games

Early text-based adventure games usually involve putting your character in scenarios, where the player inputs commands to get up, interact with items, move to locations, etc. Whether the game is linear or not, the interaction of the player was necessary for the game to continue on and progress the narrative. Unlike a novel, the player is put into the first person perspective with control over the actions players may take.

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Life is Strange, choosing breakfast
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Life is Strange, choosing who to blame

As games advance over the years, the quality and variety of choices and how much they affect the narrative improve. From simple choices as omelette or waffles for breakfast, which may affect little but flavour for the player, to bigger choices which may affect where your character goes and how other characters perceive you. The expansion of multi-linear narratives also aid on how a player would like a story to flow, perhaps the same “happy ending” isn’t the ending the player would like. Perhaps to player does not want to get along with a certain character they dislike.

Overall, what really matters is how this interactivity shapes the experience for the narrative to the player. Interactivity, however incorporated may aid or harm the player’s perspective of a story, and as a designer, it is up to us to decide what to do with such power.

Room for one colour

Room for one colour, by Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson was the most “wow” exhibition for me. Having an entire space illuminated with only a single colour of light, yellow, from mono-frequency lamps, I experienced what I’d like to call, an experience in 20th century television.

It takes a little while for the eyes to adapt to a sudden change in environment, as our notion of colour is instantly wiped, and yellow and black floods into our vision. Once our eyes adapt, we can once again have a close look at our surroundings, the details.

What I found really awakening about this exhibit was that it makes us think; what reality is to us can be highly shaped by our own vision of things. While the surroundings are nothing out of the ordinary, we are definitely “seeing things in a different light”.

The cleanliness and blank space of the room only guides us to wonder further on how different the world we see can be, how through another perspective everything around us can be different, even the presumably white walls, though ordinary, becomes dyed new.

Olafur Eliasson’s installation Room for one colour (1997) is the final work in the National Gallery’s exhibition Monochrome: Painting in Black and White (until 18 February 2018). The exhibition spans seven centuries and includes 50 works by artists who have—in most cases—deliberately turned to monochrome in their art, whether it me black and white paintings, grisaille drawings, yellow and black stained glass or a room filled with yellow light. “

On further reading, this exhibit lets us alter our perspective on things; consider that other animals have different visual spectrum from humans, the very same world can be seen in complete difference. Finally, it reminds us of how even the human being, though a social animal, could be invisible or isolated while physically together.