inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #51 of 74: pighed (pighed) Sat 22 Feb 03 09:53
    

whats going to be really fascinating will be to see how it learns and how
smart it gets from talking to other people.  guiding that interactivity,
and chiseling out a personality from a pile of internet goo will be odd.


i'd like to ask - there are a lot of writers in here - how we anticipate the
reader?  in other words every book has an "audience" and even as we sit
around fires and tell stories there is still an implied interaction with the
listener.  there is ALWAYS some interaction with the reader, regardless of
whether it is inside-the-skull (as with literature) or outside-the-skull
(as with video games).

as a writer how do you consider a reader?  how do you make something that
can be interesting for many people, yet still preserve an inherent "design"
as jukevox, i think, put it?

in short, how do we consider readers when we write (let's start with simple
text, for now, then move towards consideration of reactives).

??
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #52 of 74: nape fest (zorca) Sat 22 Feb 03 09:55
    
haha. slip! so many questions...
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #53 of 74: pighed (pighed) Sat 22 Feb 03 09:55
    

slip!  two questions.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #54 of 74: The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Sat 22 Feb 03 22:36
    

he keeps turning the tables on us and asking questions so's he can slip
away...

i find myself in lots o' conversations about the reader (whom i always call
the "alleged reader" of my work -- i'm sure that means something, like,
deep and everything). i write stuff that's just for me, but i *work on*
stuff that's for other people. i don't know who the fuck they are or what
kinds of words they like, but they're floating around out there... that's
part of the charm and the mystery. i love that i don't know them, that i
can't know them.

but as i get older, i find myself having more and more respect for the
alleged reader. hello, dear person reading my words, i am indeed honoured
that you would bring your brain and emotions up to bat and let me lob a
softball of tighly-tangled words at you. 
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #55 of 74: nape fest (zorca) Mon 24 Feb 03 14:39
    
sorry. i was out of touch myself over the weekend.

so but pighed asks:
 as a writer how do you consider a reader?  how do you make something that
 can be interesting for many people, yet still preserve an inherent "design"


i'll take a stab at that. for more than a dozen years, i wrote journalism,
which is only occasionally narrative. but still, it was important to write
in a way that engaged readers and gave them confidence in the information.
sometimes i had a good sense of who the readers were, particularly when
writing about certain technology advances or issues. i could employ specific
language that allowed shortcuts and inferences. i could make jokes or
references that enriched without bogging the text down with too much
explanation.

but the simpler the story, the more difficult it can be to write in a way
that is universally appropriate. for general interest writing, i would often
imagine my mother as the reader. she is intelligent, well-read and broad-
minded, but has little pop culture knowledge and has rarely left the small
town i grew up in. i would try to anticipate her questions and knit in a
little more background info and overall context.

these were straitjackets, in a way, but they taught me a great deal about
writing effectively and for broad audiences.

this all came into play a few years later when i was writing text for
websites and scripts for interactive television. in both cases, the primary
goal was to inspire the reader/viewer to respond. in the case of interactive
television, the feedback was immediate and sometimes maddening.

people used to ask, 'will the viewer click?' the response rates were
amazing. almost always double digits. sometimes as high as thirty or forty
percent. people WANTED to vote in polls and see the overall totals on the
next screen. they WANTED to collect trivia and take quizzes. they even
wanted to sign up for mailing lists and buy things. i believe that these
numbers will come down over time, that it was the novelty that drove a lot
of the response, but they still amazed and confounded.

the maddening part was that to get these response rates, you had to dumb
everything down to a remarkable extent. the middle of the bell curve is a
stark and cartoonish place. on rare occasions -- writing trivia for a scifi
series, for instance -- one could afford to play a little more. but the
larger the audience, the flatter the content had to be to see real numbers.

consequently, i think it becomes increasingly important to identify your
audience before any 'design' takes place. if the project is aimed at a
smaller, more distinct audience with an already established fan base and
argot, you can present some truly wonderful designs that explore the most
exciting fringes of these emerging disciplines.

if, on the other hand, you actually expect to make money at it, then it
would seem that for some long while yet, you have to level off the
sophistication and depth to get the kinds of response rates that warrant
investment. i feel kind of weird saying this. and yet, some years in the
field have battered the message home again and again.

which is, i guess why i brought up my only half jocular question about
whether sex (and i could easily have added the other two members of the
guaranteed $$$ troika, violence and gambling) might be the 'killer app' that
actually gets the hardware and expertise in the, um, hands of the
participants.

now that i'm attempting actual fiction, i think about the issue a lot. it's
probably why i'm arguing here and there for the co-existence of straight
linear narrative. i still sometimes wanna read a novel beginning to end or
watch a movie that transports me. any successful narrative is reactive, even
if not really participatory. in the best cases, i walk away amused, charmed,
piqued or troubled.

but i suspect that my own future will include more interactive design and i
am anxious that it evolve in ways that support the richest, most engaging
and rewarding interactions. which is why i'm glad people like mark are
working their way through the miasma and beaming back reports from the
front.

sheesh. i've raved on here. and only touched the surface. it would be great
to hear from some others on the topic...
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #56 of 74: Call Out Research Hook #1 (kadrey) Tue 25 Feb 03 00:55
    

criminals and artists are always the first ones to make use of new tech like
the one pighed's talking about (the military sometimes sneaks in through the
backdoor). i expect the smut biz will be all over interactive narrative
when, like the rest of us, they figure out a workable model for it. my worry
with developingtheform is figuring out a way to make it robust and intense
enough to keep people engaged for the long haul. i'm afraid that it could
too easily become pet-rock technology--a novelty item people don't take
seriously. part of the development will not be developing the form, but the
restrictions on the form. i think art is shaped more by its restrictions
than anything else. haiku isn't like a sonnet, even though they use the same
tools. interative narrative will have to develop some interestign
restictions to keep it from being a parlor game. me, i look forward to
finding out the rules and restrictions. and, of course, crushing them under
my heel. but respectfully.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #57 of 74: pighed (pighed) Tue 25 Feb 03 09:07
    


greetings from the snowy hinterlands of umea, sweden.  its sunny and white
here.  the people seem like bunnies. next week i head to sri lanka.. and my
kuwaiti visa just passed so i can head over to the middle east and do a
little investigative imaging.


> i expect the smut biz will be all over interactive narrative

mr K;  i actually already sell just that.  its not a terribly high valence
of interactivity but each month i send off a 10-page flash hoohaw with tits,
a little story, and a patch of pink for erotica sights.  its nice to do,
cause it pushes me to write and draw and shoot material i might not normally
bother with.

but what i like about it is that we know who the readers are and what they
want.  its a lot like video games - you're hunting around for a specific
response; as the author you're working to get a certain secretion from a
special gland (for both the porn and the vid.game).  and that's a nice
convenience, to have that gland as a target.

but isnt all writing a process of personalizing what you write specifically
for the reader?  it seems that this happens both when we write about
Important Issues (love, death, friendship, loss, etc - these things that
apply to everyone, so an author is safe to bring them up as questions) and
also when we write about Everyday issues (stephen king is particularly good
at this - conveying the sense of smell, the sounds, the sights, all of the
visceral and tiny items that often escape unnoticed but, when read, draw you
into the story - again, things that everyone experiences) .. or even things
like camera cuts from first person to third (which it seems to me we're
continually doing on a cognitive level, anyway).  in short; i think all
narrative tools that authors use serve to bring a reader somehow closer to
the story.

for myself, and with my websites, i'm trying to make the story as personal
as i know how.  in my case it's to photograph and paint and write about what
i do.  i've gotten into a bit of a pickle, however, because its SO personal
to me that its hard to make it interactive.  which tells me that my approach
is off somehow.  i've tried to appeal to readers by asking them to send me
questions to ask (SEX.Q photos project) or buildings to climb (hedspace
photo project) but it always feels a bit taped on, as if i'm doing it for
the novelty rather than the grace.

but either way, it seems that stories are in the process of getting more and
more personal.

i think this is what a reactive is all about; personalization.  when people
were talking about "interactive television" back in the day it was all about
how many channels and choices.  which is a kind of primitive
personalization.

5000 channels of porn;  personalize your fantasy.  ... bleh.  why is that
such a revolting thought?
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #58 of 74: (humdog) Tue 25 Feb 03 13:22
    

piggie requests that i add the following text to this discussion:

and i quote:

"the interactive model right now reminds me of french fiction, of
the french view of time and plot.  i talked about this with someone
a while back, relative to french criticism and analytics.  we
were saying that there is something in the french language that
permits more access to the dream-time.  then i read in a book:
"english is too precise".

"i think it is extremely sigificant that the book's view of
interactive appears to be primarily visual rather than traditionally
narrative.  the visual POV would assume a beholder, an "all-at-once"
or at least at minimum a not-necessarily-linear approach to
perception.

"the genius of crutch was that there were branches and all the
branches were interesting and valid and all the branches added
weight to each of the other branches, like botticelli's evocation
of the figures around venus add weight to the mystery of venus.
venus remains a mystery although we feel able to call her by a name.

"we are happy that no one, so far, is able to satisfactorily
perform the academic e-visceration of Venus.

"the so-called 'writer' (not a good name in this medium) consciously
or unconsciously assumes a level of knowledge in the reader(s),
both the "model" reader and the "empirical" reader (definitions
supplied upon request).  the "writer" to be symmetrical must
have i think an analogy: ie "model" writer, "empirical" writer,
both of which are names for strategies.

"in interactive/reactive i believe the book suggests the opportunity
to name the strategies/writers: ie humdog will write X strategy
or it is assumed that humdog would write X strategy, so that it
is possible to name a "model" or "strategy" of humdogian plot
where "text"= "strategy".

"in a reactive reading of gone with the wind for example (and
i mention this because it is a comment i have heard nearly
every time somebody mentions gone with the wind,there is an alternate 
desired version of the work where rhett MUST give a damn
even though giving a damn destroys the tension and sense
of the work.

 

                            -humdog 24 feb 2003
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #59 of 74: The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Tue 25 Feb 03 18:58
    

letting all of everyone's thoughts soak in... my comment is going to be
just sideways to it. 

i'm thinking about identity and the act of putting on someone else's skin.
that's part of what we love about a story, i think. we -- *i* -- don't just
want the "narrative" per se, the structure and the plot and the who did
what when. i want to mindmeld with the storyteller around the campfire. i
want to *become* the character(s) i'm reading about in the novel. this
identity-fuck was the first thing that attracted me to the idea of being
online, when i first read about it in the late 1980s. 

what little i've played of modern (post-Donkey Kong) video games leads me
to believe i fall into a classic gender category with that. the boys want
to have their glands activated or wahtever Pighed said; here is the girl,
do this, do that, wank, splatter, be done with it. here are the Orcs, here
is your sword, kill kill jump twist slash kill kill defend kill kill, be
done with it. frankly i find it hopelessly tedious.

but i do like putting the clothes on the Barbies and setting up the Sims in
their house and i guess sort of imagining that i am whatever character i'm
playing with.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #60 of 74: nape fest (zorca) Wed 26 Feb 03 09:36
    
interesting, tiff. watching how this all plays out around gender roles and
cultural vectors should be fun. pighed has been on the road a lot the past
year or so. i wonder if you'd be willing to talk a little about how you see
interactive media, particularly narrative, evolving globally. is there any
hope for a rich bed of varied approaches seeded by all these social
differences? sometimes it seems that television and corporatized pop culture
are dooming us to a homogenization, but this seems an arena that might spawn
unique scenarios. thoughts?
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #61 of 74: (humdog) Thu 27 Feb 03 07:30
    


history shows us that many interesting and meaningful
tech innovations (and i mean the USEFUL ones) begin
their lives as toys.  

i would tend to strip the gender thing out because
the gender business is mutable and subject to social
and cultural forces that the gender business itself does not
control.  gender-as-cultural-force is something that is acted upon,
it reacts more acts.  there is nothing in western european
middle/middle upper class gender identity construction that
contains anything that would resonate as "oppression" or
"categorization" anywhere except within western circles
of certain economic and social beliefs. as a cultural
force, gender is the sand down near the bottom of the cultural rock
pile.  gender is a construction of the academic social
science Phd factory.

the only thing that works is "exotic other" and that can be
ANYBODY to ANYBODY. exotic other is in the eye of the beholder.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #62 of 74: The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Thu 27 Feb 03 15:34
    

well, back when i bothered to read a bunch of academic hoo-hah about this
kind of stuff (early-mid-1990s), girls and games were a big topic. girls
and computers in general. cuz girls weren't doing it as much as boys were.

now women are 50% of the online world (as opposed to the estimated 15% when
i first got online). looks like that bit of bad gender programming sorted
itself out pretty darned quickly. 

the point is merely that i reserve the right to refer to patterns that have
appeared to relate to gender. specifically, so that it can be understood
properly should i mention such a thing again in this topic: American,
Western, modern, current-day. personally i am white middle class West Coast
and all those usual boring liberal things. so there you have it. context. 

they did studies. girls liked to dress up barbies. girls liked to be
involved in ther *relationship* aspect of interactive digital games.
(please see Brenda Laurel's stuff for more on this.) boys liked to shoot
stuff. these are generalizations, but they happened to be true. i'm not
sure what the exotic other has to do with any of this. i'm just sayin': my
reaction to certain video game stuff matches up to some gender patterns
that have been scientifically observed in the past. maybe we can find
something meaningful there as we consider what can be done with
"interactive narrative."
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #63 of 74: pighed (pighed) Fri 28 Feb 03 11:02
    

so what do the girls like to read?

i spent most of today helping design a system - a real, physical system - in
which kids walk up to it and they can explore the globe through this form of
interactive narrative that takes place a ffew years in the future.  it was
designed for girls around the age of 14.

i, of cours, said we should have nekkit chix and guns.

but now you're making me wonder..  nekkit boys and guns?
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #64 of 74: nape fest (zorca) Fri 28 Feb 03 11:20
    
ha. nekkit always good! and props just add to the fun.

and not to chide our charming interviewee for asking questions, i'm hoping
that a few of our fine readers choose to answer, but i believe that the
official time for this exchange is nearly up. perhaps pighed would be
willing to leave us with a few words about how he thinks interactive
narrative might actually manifest in the next few years? what can we look
forward to? how can we help?
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #65 of 74: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 28 Feb 03 11:42
    
Girls do like adventure books, of course, but osme of the adventure is
social, and some of the suspense has to do with relationships.  Female
protagonists help!  

Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden are two girl detective series popular 
forever -- Little House on the Prairie was such an enduring series of 
girl's faves that it was a natural for a TV series.  Island of 
the Blue Dolphins was an award-winning survival tale.    

I googled "girls book list popular reading" and grabbed these pages
quickly -- take a look at the plot synopses on these for a start:
http://www.bookloversden.com/gseries.html
http://www.randomhouse.com/BB/promos/greatbooks/booklist.html

Samples:
Wrede, Patricia. Dealing with Dragons. 1990. Harcourt Brace. Ages 10-13. 
     Cimorene finds being a princess so boring that she takes a job
working for a dragon! The first in a popular, funny series. 

Avi. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. 1990. Orchard. Ages 10-14. 
     "Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to
trial, and found guilty," opens this thrilling tale of a proper young lady 
who changes when she gets caught up in a mutiny. A top-notch adventure.

Or seen on this Teen Angst reading site:
http://www.grouchy.com/angst/reviews.html
 >Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging
>Confessions of Georgia Nicolson
>by Louise Rennison
>Imagine if Harriet (from Harriet the Spy) grew
>up, became obsessed with boys, was a fan of
>Claire Danes and that old television series "My
>So-Called Life," and lived in England... Or,
>imagine a younger, more naive version of
>Bridget Jones (from B. J.'s Diary)... well, then
>you'd have a bit of an idea what Georgia
>Nicolson is like. She's sharp and smart-assed,
>pouty, and as melodramatic as an opera diva.

Also, there's an old topic from the WELL sex conf about this subject, with
a lot of interesting comments, from almost ten years ago.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #66 of 74: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 28 Feb 03 11:43
    
Can't find that one now... but this may be interesting too:
 <muchomedia.266>
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #67 of 74: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 28 Feb 03 11:45
    

Oops, mucho slippage.

Zorca's call for a summary is totally timely.  The time has flown!
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #68 of 74: pighed (pighed) Mon 3 Mar 03 09:42
    

> willing to leave us with a few words about how he thinks
> interactive narrative might actually manifest in the next
> few years? what can we look forward to? how can we help?

i think about this more than i'd like and its a tricky thing to talk about
cause the possibilities seem infinite and, finally, dependant on the
increasing imagination of authors (+ tech).  which seem limited only by
their historic foundation and preceding ideas.

if my theory that interaction in literary forms has increased and personal
perspectives have becoming increasingly rich from greek epics on down to
modern essays, then i dont see why other forms of narrative wouldnt follow
the trend. my suspicion is that over the next decade i suspect we'll see an
emergence of increasingly political/social forms of reactives and a gradual
decrease of violence as the sole reason for player motivation.  A Tale In
The Desert and Banja being two examples.  but dont get me wrong; i think
violence will always hold an important role - as will sex - because they're
important to how we live and, let's face it, they sell.

i imagine it being a tree.  right now we're only at the point where the
roots meet the trunk.  over the coming decades the artform would improve,
solidify, find its direction, and once that has been established then it
will branch out, with primary trends appearing.

since interaction isnt based in digital media, and since there are thousands
of different literary and visual art forms, genres, trends, etc then i
expect things to diversify in a couple of decades based, largely, on the
combinations of existing technologies and techniques.  examples:
ubiquitous.computing+architecture, print+audio, AI+vid.games, VR+video,
mobile+everything...

after a few decades i have a hard time imagining limits.  what happens when
we see something like diamond age, in which narrative realities overlap our
actual realities, and 'ractors are paid on an individual level?  who isnt an
actor or author then?  when VR and SMME are so neatly stitched into our
daily lives we see walkmans replaced by interactive books?  sci.fi and so
on.

i wonder if hollywood will be displaced by some other center that's being
steered by people more receptive to reactives than folks like Valenti and
Eisner.  i wonder if a center will appear at all.  i wonder if there is a
chance to invent financial models for art that are based on profitable trade
rather than monetary sales.  i wonder how to get media companies like AOL
off their ass and to take notice of the potential they have to improve what
they do.  i wonder about university programs adopting new ideas and
definitions of narrative.  i also wonder about what the hell we should call
it all (reactives or interactive narrative or narrative intelligence
systems, just movies).

for myself, i'm spending my time focusing on the integration of AI
technologies with narratives and art.  i think this will be a fruitful
branch to follow.  its at least more interactive and has a strong character
(hopefully).

then, if that's interactive, i'm also concentrating on increasingly personal
forms of authorship (such as my work at http://www.boar.com/days/).  once
these personal forms of narrative can be folded into interactive authorship
where the reader can affect the plot of, essentially, the author's life, my
guess is we'll see a whole new set of work drop off of those spliced
branches.

as authors, we're lucky to be alive these days.  we have the chance to watch
something new being born, to help it grow, and to throw out own ideas into
the pile.  everything seems to be exploding, and we all have a can of gas we
can can throw.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #69 of 74: nape fest (zorca) Mon 3 Mar 03 12:38
    
thanks, mark. lovely summing up. i very much look forward to a more
interactive future and am glad that individuals like yourself are committing
this much intelligence and effort toward its evolution.i encourage anyone
with an interest in this emerging area to check out mark's three websites
now and then for updates.

http://www.boar.com
http://www.bore.com
http://www.boor.com

i believe mark is right now winging his way to sri lanka for a bit more, um,
research. and while this interview is officially over, i hope that anyone
wishing to contribute to an ongoing conversation on the topic will feel free
to do so here.

cheers...
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #70 of 74: The Phantom of the Arts Center (tinymonster) Mon 3 Mar 03 18:55
    
Gail -- Wow!  Somebody remembers Trixie Belden!

> Girls do like adventure books, of course,...
> Female protagonists help!  

This made Neil Gaiman's _Coraline_ leap to my mind....
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #71 of 74: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 4 Mar 03 09:10
    
That would be an interesting project!
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #72 of 74: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 4 Mar 03 09:49
    
I want to thank <pighed>, <zorca>, et al for this fascinating conversation
about the present and future of interactive narrative. Please feel free to
continue posting, though the designated two weeks has passed.
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #73 of 74: pighed (pighed) Fri 7 Mar 03 00:55
    

in sri lanka now... the trip out was a, well, trip.  our flight out of italy
got canned due to US troops hogging the rnuway, so we go reroutede through
to kuwait.  i'm in sri lanka now and meeting with a local here on how they
have some interesting local forms of indian narratives - will post again in
a couple weeks..
  
inkwell.vue.175 : pighed (Mark Meadows), _Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative_
permalink #74 of 74: The Fucked-Up Piano Chicks (magdalen) Fri 7 Mar 03 16:22
    

have phun piggie.
  



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