Monday, September 17, 2007

Separating Narratives Blog 4, question 2

Defining a word is a difficult thing to do. Some definitions are somewhat vague and cover a wide spectrum. Narrative is a word that is a prime example. According to a narrative is defined as “a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious.” This could be one of a million different things. Stories can be told in different forms, which then imply that narratives can be quite different from one another. Stories can be told verbally, written down to be read, viewed in the form of a movie, played as game, or even told through music.

According to Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary of English, interactive fiction is defined as “a type of computer game in which the player controls the characters with text commands; also called text adventures.” In such a game, a story is told through both the text commands that are entered, as well as the responses the program gives back after you enter a command. Zork is a great example of such a game. While playing Zork, I found myself to be lost in thought as to the possibilities there are. Choosing to do one thing as opposed to another will alter the story completely. Like when I first began to play, I didn’t go around the house to find the cracked window, instead I went straight to the woods and began a story of my own that was completely different from the one told in class when we went inside the house. The possibilities are almost endless.

As for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, it tells the story of Hank Morgan and his adventures. This novel can be called a narrative with almost no explanation. It is a story of events that is told through a reading which is exactly what a narrative is to be defined as.

Since both Zork and Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court tell a story, I believe that they both can be classified as a narrative. If you ask me this seems to be a problem since, they are different in almost every aspect except for the mere fact that they both tell a story. It seems as if they need to be divided down into different categories of narratives.

Now the question that arises is how you come up with the different categories. I think narratives should be broken up into the following types: books or written narratives, interactive narratives, or visual/verbal narratives.

For obvious reason A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court would fall into the written category. On the other hand I would put Zork into interactive narrative category. In this same group I would also include games like Zelda which tells the story of Link who saves Princess Zelda or any other type story that you must interact with to finish the story. And the last group would consist of movies, TV shows, music, and storytelling done around a campfire.

Well now that I’ve been able to separate groups for Zork and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court as well as other different narratives like movies, I realize that I fail to have a place for choose your own adventure books since they could possibly fall into both interactive and written. At this point I really don’t know what to say. I don’t think Zork and Twain’s book should both be put under the same umbrella of a narrative in general, but I cannot think of a way to divide narratives in such that they can fit into separate groups that don’t overlap. So if anyone has a good way to separate them I am open to suggestions.


Jessica S. said...

Hi! First off, I am working on question #1 this week, so I thought it was cool that you actually took the same route I was by starting with a quote from the dictionary. It is necessary that we define words by our own experiences, yet often our definition is so subjective that it's best to do additional research.

And, as far as your categorization, I think it is similarly necessary to still see the subjectivity when we ever categorize things, because in doing so we assign meaning to things we observe, and that meaning is always specific to the individual and not some objective realization. (I realize that I am a bit controversial with that claim, so it's just my opinion!) With that, I would say there's no "wrong" way to categorize the two but offer the observation that maybe it's not always possible to make a system of categorization that is not arbitrary, and therefore we always find outliers, or cases that don't fit our heuristics. So maybe your problem can't be avoided unless you call a mushroom a plant and leave it at that.

Adam Johns said...

You get a fairly slow start here - nothing you say in the first few paragraphs seems like a bad idea, by any means, but nor does any of it go very far beyond what we talked about in class.

Where it started to get interesting for me is when you divide narratives into three parts. The problem is that this is the heart of the post, but you don't explain yourself. Why these three divisions? Why is your emphasis on the technological media of the narrative?

There's an issue with focus, in other words: you spend most of your effort discussing things which could have been handled with a summary, and then quickly rush through the interesting and distinctive part.