in Process, Research

Reflections on Narrative Equivocations between Movies and Game

I went into the reading with the presumption that the only aspect that sets Movies and Games apart was the role the viewer plays, the former being one that simply watches submissively and the latter one that plays assertively. After reading this essay by Marsha Kinder, I have came to realised that while that is seemingly true, it is not the only limit in the terms how the viewer can participate in both cases and the stance the player chooses the narrative changes accordingly. All of which can be subtly manipulated by the author.

Kinder claims that “any simple distinction between active game players and passive movie spectators would be naive”. It seems if any game players were too fixated on following the rules and attaining the goals, which seems to be typical impression of a gamer, the player would be missing out on the narrative set out by the author. Whereas if any film watcher was to just simply observe the visual at hand, without having to formed their own associations, the viewer would have totally missed out on the narrative the author has set out to convey. What I interpret from this is that there ought to be a balance between the stances of the participants to be able to respond accordingly to this ‘algorithm’ that the authors have put in place that guides controls the users’ reception/ though process. Participants need to be both an active game player and passive movie spectator at the same time.

However, personally, with this theory set in place, I can’t help but think that gamers tend to loose out for the appreciation of narratives in games. I understand that Kinder has quoted Manovich that its the “well-defined task” put in place that “makes the player experience the game as a narrative”. Yet, to me, even though there is a set of rules and goals being put in place, they are limited to how much they can control a a participant. Kinder claims that there is a desire to transfer feelings of control over to the real world. With that said, I truly believe the drive induced behind wanting to win a game and hence ignoring anything in context to be utilised to form the narrative is highly likely, especially because there is a stake at hand which is implicated in the real world, whether physical or emotional.

Comparing this to movie watchers, it is innately predisposed for humans to make meaning of visual materials so, it is difficult for humans to be simply observing a film without interactive spectatorship- even without an explicit ‘rule’.

I am not saying that games are not visual materials, but what I am saying is that the algorithm, the set of rules has induced a drive to win that is much stronger the drive to bringing in their own associations to form a tale. 

Perhaps this is why Kinder mentions that film adaptions of games are not doing as well as game adaptions to film because in the case of the former, films remove the push to gain whereas in the latter, with the enhance from films, the propel for victory is only made stronger.