May 30, 2008
The latest panel at the ELO Visionary Landscapes conference featured fascinating talks about metafiction and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and one about interactive fiction: Jimmy Maher’s talk “A New Approach to the Storygame: Blending the Crossword with the Narrative,” based on his paper “Toward Games that Matter: The Promise and Problems of the Storygame.” The concept of “storygame” as Maher discusses it is broader than “interactive fiction,” in that it includes computer games that have narrative aspects, but computational simulation of some sort is required for a storygame. Maher distinguishes “three-dimensional” works that present a world (you can get lost in a good book) with the “two-dimensional” work in which the qualities of the text are foregrounded; related to Burgess’s type 1 and type 2 authors. Genre literature is often the previous; literary fiction the latter – but great literature can do both. The idea can be extended to games: Chess is two-dimensional, in that we don’t imagine battlefields and everything happens on its surface. War games through D&D and Adventure are three-dimensional.