Space substitutes time

So Wonderland pointed me to this fabulous presentation by Kim Plowright, SCP New Product Development, BBC iD&E (I’m really not sure), entitled “21st Century Folktales: Games, Worlds and Stories”. It was a pure joy to read, seriously! She’s got some wonderful clips in there, including stuff from PacManhattan (which put me in a dual between”OMG! How utterly ridiculous!” and “OMG! I wanna try!” state of mind), The Leeroy Jenkins video (which I’ve heard so much about…but never seen and I laughed my socks off) and ofcourse The Internet is For Porn (it was actually worth seeing again) and loads loads more!! Definately a refreshing presentation, specially because she didn’t get caught up in the banalities of definitions! Which also produced an interesting comment on MMORPGs (specifically WoW) that’s got my head spinning:

  • “There’s something else worth mentioning about the game world, too; as your character progresses, you’re given quests, which will move you from one area of the (huge!) game-world to the next. The quests also deliver you tiny fragments of the story of the world. So rather than being organised as a narrative that you play through, the narrative is organised as a world that you play in. Interesting things happen when you subsitute time for space in a narrative.”

This all…has ofcourse led me down a path that has no relevence to my thesis whatsoever (or maybe I’ll turn things around…again). But isn’t this fascinating?! “Interesting things happen when you subsitute time for space in a narrative.” It’s just such a lovely sentence!! And it brought back memories of Rune Klevjer‘s fascinating lecture last monday about stories and games. He introduced a completely new notion to me about fiction and play and presented Kendall Walton! Which of course led me to read Remarkable Jill Walker‘s ‘Performing Fictions: Interaction and Depiction’.

Now…truth be told…I’m really confused while writing this, but I can’t help loving this notion of fiction, which according to Walton is the combination of imagination and rules:

  • “A fictional truth consists in there being a prescription or mandate in some context to imagine something. Fictional propositions are propositions that are to be imagined – whether or not they are in fact imagined. [35]”

Now…I’ve been a fan of space being narrative within virtual worlds for a long time – every place and thing has a different story to tell (I have no narratological background…so yet again…excuse my ignorance), but just as wise Mr. Juul expresses, narrative can mean everything: “…our interest is in concepts rather than words” (p. 156). And this fiction thing is just fascinating! Now…to be honest…I was going to say that this could be used in relation to space in MMORPGs, but see…that just ain’t going to work. The space is pretty much ‘real’. There is no imagination involved in virtual space. What you see is what you get…it’s a rule system that your avatar has to acknowledge and obey. Now…combine this with imagination and you get fiction? The virtual world is the rule and your imagination (I don’t know…being your avatar?) combined creates a fiction? Not a narrative, in other words…but a fiction. And I can see now…that I need to stop before I get carried away and write several pages worth of messy thoughts! I’ll get back to it when I know more of what the hell I’m talking about (like that’s ever gonna happen).

But anyways…I agree with the presentation really! Space does substitute time in MMORPGs…and I think that’s incredibly interesting! But…wait a minute…I feel my thoughts…going in another direction again…darn!!

3 thoughts on “Space substitutes time

  1. Have you finished your thesis, by the way? is it online anywhere?Glad you liked the presentation, by the way.

  2. Hey Kim. Yeah – I’ve finished – but it’s not online yet. Partly because I’m embarrassed and I’ve been meaning to go back and polish a few things – and partly because I’ve been too lazy figuring out how to, and what copyright issues I have with the university.I’ll happily e-mail it to you, though!

  3. That would be cool, if you would! you can find me at kim (at) mildlydiverting /dot/ com – I’ll look forward to reading it!

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