In Alexander Galloway’s article “Gamic Action, Four Moments,” he describes the types of actions that take place in a game. He starts by explaining that video games are actions, just as photos are images and film is moving images. He also notes that there is the action of the player, like finding a special power up, and the action of the machine, when the power up actually works to boost the characters abilities. He describes two terms diegetic and nondiegetic: diegetic deals with the game’s totally world of the narrative story and nondiegetic elements are the ones that are still important to the narrative but are completely outside the narrative world. He explains these make up two perpendicular axes between the machine and operator, diegetic and nondiegetic, and that this diagram is the basis for the four moments of gamic action. Some of the pages in the article are cut after that, so I cannot tell what all four are. While reading this article, I could not help but think at some points, well duh. Everything that he is describes seems incredibly obvious. I am not sure what the point of the excerpt that we read is, but it seems like he is just trying to figure out some way to sort and categorize the way video games work. While this is admirable, I guess I did not know we were at the point of dissecting video games the way we do other mediums. When there is a new revelation to be found about the narrative, I really enjoy analyzing texts, but most of the time we seem to be analyzing for the sake of analyzing. It usually seems redundant and excessive. I am betting he ties all of these obvious points together in not-so-obvious points later in the article, but since it skips ahead I am not quite sure what to think as far as that I agree with him so far. Because video games are machines that require buttons to be pushed or commands to be given at all times, they are definitely interactive, or as Galloway puts it, they are an action-based medium. This is a bit confusing however when he likens it to photographs, because for the photograph to even exist, someone had to press the button telling the camera what to do. This article is a good example of a reading that needs a bit more direction before reading it. I think it would be more effective if we were looking for something or knew the point he was trying to make so we could identify how he supports it.


To be graded easy:



Narrative – What it could be (pg 8-9)

In this portion of the reading, Ryan describes the “narrative script” and the gives a list of what needs to be in the story to be a narrative. Without all of these, a story cannot be or possess a narrative, like a dish missing it’s ingredients.

  1. Create a world and populate it. Assert the existence of certain individuals.

  2. The world that has been created must undergo changes. (Either by humans or non-humans.)

  3. It must allow for a plot.

Following these rules, you now a “narrative script.” Although, these rules are pretty obvious, I have not read or heard of a story that do not possess these requirements. However, these rules do not apply to the audience, meaning that although you have a narrative, it may not entertain your audience. Whether it’s exciting or boring, it’s still a narrative.

Here’s my narrative using these rules.

  1. Planet Earth, Oklahoma. A town of 2000 people.

  2. Tornado coming.

  3. 2000 people have got to get out of the town.

Not much said, but still a successful narrative. Not a complete narrative, mind you, I need a much more efficient presentation of the story and proper structure of the plot.

Should I complete this story and publish into a book, then my story is in a state of “possessing narrative.” According to Ryan, “possessing narrative” is “evoking the script” and this can be textual or non-textual. I could publish this narrative into book or make a movie or even do an interpretive dance telling the narrative.

If this narrative I completed became a rousing success, to the point where all you needed to see was a tornado to think of the narrative, then it is now in a state of “being” A good example of this is the Cross in Christianity: you only need to see it to recall the Biblical stories and are aware of the ideals in the religion.

According to Ryan, the narrative can only be at it’s “fullest form” when you can take the textual story written and the audience’s interpretation of the text and find no difference in the two. I agree and disagree with this idea. With the game Limbo, the creators wanted us to have our own interpretation of the game’s narrative and purposefully gave us little to go on. Leaving the narrative up the gamer would be Limbo’s “fullest form.” However, if audiences successfully interpreted a narrative the way the author wanted them to, we would have less instances of people doing their best to ban certain books. Instead of trying to ban books, audiences could better appreciate the narratives and the messages (if there is one) being given.  



To be graded Medium

The Structure of an Escape

A bit late on this, but I remember discussing this particular half-blog post- though I can’t seem to find it and find the memory of writing it to be more likely to be a memory construct.  Therefore restitution for some lost words/time!

I think most interesting for me in the analysis of Narrative Structure was the examination of various narrative elements by Gerard Genette.  In particular, I found it fascinating to designate a meaningful distinction between the various narrative elements (loosely being termed narrative, story, and narrating- where one narrating tells the events of a story in what becomes a narrative).  This distinction, though somewhat difficult to interpret at first blush, can easily be used when understood as another tool both for dissecting narrative works or constructing them.

In the case of story, analysis might hinge upon the plausibility of events and sorting deus ex machina from a more believable causality.  It is from this meat that a tale is made solid and lifelike, and which if lacking might show the tale to be little more than simulacra of something vivacious.  The story may move, but it becomes harder for us to comfortably engage.  The value of story integrity is of highest importance for those writing for stories that cater to educated or cynical audiences, who might otherwise lose interest in a tale where they did not believe logic was involved.

In the case of narrating, we might find analyses to focus more on the authenticity of the telling.  As Genette notes- a true story is still only events until an individual is narrating, but in the case of fiction the act of narrating “expands” its power to the creation of events and weaving of fate.  It is here that we might place chronology, for the order of the telling has the power to instill different feelings.  Refusing to inform the audience of the hero’s fate until the end of the story, for example, builds the dramatic tension in a story of daring and danger.  In this way, the act of narrating is the act of breathing life into a proper story.

Finally we examine that which Genette focuses his discussion on, the narrative– or as we term it in class- the narrative discourse.  This is of course the fullness, the bones, the foundation and whole of the tale.  For in stringing together the events of a story in the act of narrating  the body of the narrative emerges fully formed.  Even the first utterance of the tale makes real the piece, however tenuous its permanence.  We discussed in class some experimentation with the act of narrating.  We noted how the art of refining a narrative to its barest parts is sometimes more desirable than fleshing it out- for once given breath by narrating the wraith-like narrative can dance about in phantasmagorical, haunting, and reaching ways as our minds grasp for anything to cover the threadbare tale and give it solid meaning.  Our attempts to flesh out the flash fiction “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” are indicative of the power of brevity which careful narrating can grant as well as give an indication of the power of the narrative medium to shape our perception of the story.  In this case, an economical voice speaking might align us to think of a family left cold and unfeeling, while a trembling delivery might indicate a family trying desperately to hold itself together and find some soul to carry off the sorrow they cannot bring themselves to willingly part with.  Narrative and its creative act are inextricably linked, the power of the telling inevitably lying in the strength and form of the narrative’s medium to convey its message.

It is these ponderings which lend me the notion that Genette’s terms have some worth for the interpretation of a narrative, for it is only with attention to the audience, the teller, and the medium involved that we can understand the power which digital medium might possess and how we as storytellers might command them.


Edited Table 0.1 from Narrative Across Media By Marie-Laurie Ryan

chartI redrew this so I could visually put the catagories into perspective.. Broken up into the number of channels, and their spatio/temporal groupings I stacked them into a pyramid which is getting smaller and smaller at the top. I didn’t mean to do this at first, but after looking at it and thinking for awhile I think it makes sense. It makes sense for the media or type of expression itself to be listed in a smaller area when it communicates through more channels because it takes that much more of the abstraction possibilities out of your hands. The more channels it involves, the more direct information presented = the less you can envision on your own.