From Ludological Retelling to Possible Worlds

Jason Rhody
Miscellany is the Largest Category
Games, Fictions, Narratives (2006)

I construe the relation between game playing and story telling as one of encapsulation. The ludic drive as hypothesis forming and testing is a type of drive to narrativization. People play games to tell stories. People conduct experiments to tell stories. Or reshape the stories that are told.

Jason’s astute reply

Having narrativity, at least in the sense that Ryan (Narrative Across Media) implies, is thus distinguishable from being a narrative. Many things have narrativity (the potential for narrative), but not all are narratives without the accompanying act of retelling.

Postscript from a retelling in off-line notes:

Jason Rhody’s discussion of “game fiction” has me thinking. Script became an interesting term in our exchange. Prince’s dictionary [Gerald Prince, A Dictionary of Narratology] allowed me to distinguish script from rule. The one has as its aim “role”; the other, “move”. That led me to query the ordering Marie-Laure Ryan made in an abstract [“Narratology beyond Literary Criticism” housed on the portal of the Narratology Research Group (Forschergruppe Narratologie)], an ordering that reminded me of the work of [Lubomír] Doležel on possible worlds and fiction. I am struck with remarking that both populate worlds before describing changes in states of affairs.

Could it be that the line of description goes:
state of affairs –> world –> agents

Description )) Collection )) Motivation
    open for    

This seems complicated … it is trying to tease out the imbrication of narration with narrative. Description-Collection-Motivation is an abstract way of trying to capture world-building as a cumulative activity. The key I now realize is the switch from Observation (Description) to Curating (Collection). In other words a fictional world can be populated by agents once the elements of that world are deemed movable. It is also the distinctive move from state of affairs to world. In conclusion, we might be able to align games with the move from state of affairs to state of affairs and fiction with move from possible world to possible world (which is totally erroneous direction since in some fictions there is no change of world but simply a change of the state of affairs in a world). Game fiction complicates the picture further.

Best to end, for the moment on an orthogonal comment on the phenomenology of participant-approaches to games and stories

Susan Stewart in On Longing (1993) in the section on the miniature writes: “The toy is the physical embodiment of the fiction: it is a device for fantasy, a point of beginning for narrative. The toy opens an interior world, lending itself to fantasy and privacy in a way that the abstract space, the playground, of social play does not.”

Of course, the toy is not the game. The map is not the territory.

And so for day 1239

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