These articles discuss the role of narratives in games, and whether games can be expected to have a narrative, or whether this is just a projection of what academics want to see in games. There were several areas that I thought were particularly interesting.
The first area is Aarseth’s imagery of the colonizing literary academic in the new found computer-game land. This was really interesting that he immediately sets up this distance between academics of different areas (“academics from neighboring fields, such as literature and film studies, are eagerly grasping “the chance to begin again, in a golden land of opportunity and adventure”). Clearly the articles were quite opposed to literary academics imposing their need for a narrative and a story onto the computer game. Basically, I was suprised that both articles clumped literature, and film into groups as if that was all there was to them. For example, in my literature class I read Grapes of Wrath and of course I fully expected to discuss the narrative. The book was written to be discussed for it’s literary value. In my spare time, I read Reinventing Romeo which I doubt anyone with a degree in English has ever read, much less analyzed for it’s narrative. They are two different products being marketed to two different groups of people. Beyond this basic example, there are books about everything, to suit any academic area of interest. I would say the same is true for art, and film. It seems to make sense, that while video games are still young now, as they develop, they will branch out to provide different areas of study with more specific material.
Besides this, I thought Aarseth made a very interesting case for narratives in current video games by looking at the translation of narratives to video games and video games to narratives.
“but the cultural conventions, such as the setting and character types of, say, Star Wars, are translated. While, as Jesper Juul has pointed out (Juul 2001a), the story of Star Wars is unextractable from the game of the same name, the setting, atmosphere and characters can be deduced. So, although nonnarrative and nonludic elements can be translated, the key elements, the narration and the gameplay, like oil and water, are not easily mixed.”
I would argue that what is so brilliant about translating a book or film to a video game is that the player, in a sense, becomes the narrator, and that’s the main appeal, over the game itself. As he said before, games are as old as stories, and being able to shoot a bad guy is a familiar game, but when you become Harry Potter, and you are in a battle with Voldemort, not only are you the main character, and the constraints of the game, the rules themselves, and your actions all combine to shape the narration and results of the story and game.
I hope this all makes sense!