narrative and space

The Guardian’s gameblog states

From politics to plot, it seems now that the technology is suitably up to scratch the focus has moved away from this gadget or that graphics card and is now on getting people involved in play through narrative.

The comments that follow the post reveal a thoughful curiosity and concern with the idea of narrative, plot, and story “in games.” But I think the differentiation between “plot” as a devise to motivate story and narrative, where the plot “fits,” are important to these kinds of discussions.

I’ll always remember encountering Rembrandt’s intense “Raising of Lazarus” in Los Angeles back in the mid-eighties. The painting is huge, and I sat studying the thing (and others) for some time, just stunned to quite, watching. The visual power for me came between two points: Christ’s raised hand and the dead man thrusting out of the grave. I was trying to find the supernatural string puppeting Lazarus out of his coffin. We have the story that the representational space tells, the drama, the moment when only one thing matters. I’ll never forget that power and what such an image can connect to now. The painting is the Aleph.

Immersiveness is a potential of all kinds if narrative, but how to sustain it, make it durable? But that immersive power doesn’t depend on myth and theology, although it helps. The painting would engross on its own due to the great drama on the canvas and how the laying of the paint draws the eye (has the eye re-draw the painting).

An interesting house (an architectural maze) can have the same effect as it takes us room to dramatic room in space “in a sequence.” But how does an architect or designer create the potential for drama in a space that may or may not be new?

It will be interesting to hear how people react to Doom 3 in this regard: will it immerse, engage, add to what has come before for its audience? We know that powerful narratives keep people coming back. I.e., Shakespeare, della Porta, the American elections.

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