A few comments on the Comprehension – Interpretation – Experience thread and Mulholland Drive

I think our discussion about how a lot of the effect of the film is lost if a viewer attempts to decipher the “meaning” of Mulholland Drive as if it were a puzzle film with one solution was right on target. After viewing, I read the dream interpretation of the film and was satisfied enough with that. There are lots of clues that point towards that, and you could interpret the non sequiter scenes as dream-logic depictions of Betty’s internal psychology. But even with subsequent viewings (and this was probably time 5 or 6), I don’t really think about comprehension or interpretation nearly as much as I like to enjoy the visceral experience Lynch affords his viewers. Scenes like the subliminally terrifying diner scene, the coffee/producer scene, or Betty’s audition with the dirtbag actor work on such a gut level that they remind me of the Quatsi-films in terms how they make me feel…I can watch them time and time again (I put on at least one of these three scenes several times a semester on my projector without watching the rest of the film). For Lynch, especially in Mulholland Drive, content takes a back seat to feelings, empathy, and experience. Audiences exhibit nervous laughter and inexplicable emotion, unsure of how to digest a particular scene or performance. The film is successful in that Lynch can make you feel very uncomfortable, happy, terrified, etc. without any backstory. Many of the scenes stand alone.

Mulholland Drive reminds me a lot of Perfect Blue, a really good Satoshi Kon (director of Paprika and Toyko Godfathers) anime and similar puzzle film. Its plot revolves around a Japanese female pop icon who abandons her group and music career to pursue a future in film. However, she can only land a sleazy role in a trashy sitcom and feels violated by her role in the show. Soon, her grip on reality begins to slip as she loses herself in her character and its unclear what scenes happen in the show versus in her real life. Furthermore, a stalker is posting intimate details of her life on a blog, which she then obsesses over and reads – taking everything she reads as fact about her life. The veil between reality and fantasy is utterly confused as her coworkers begin to show up dead, often brutally murdered.

Both these films are definitely a step in the right direction in terms of representing dream worlds with their style and narration. If you were to think of dreams as film, an individual has an unusual role as both narrator and audience. My favorite part of the diner scene is how the action imitates the nervous guy’s dialogue moments earlier – often in dreams, you are explaining events as they happen because your brain already knows where they’re going. Audiences leave these films confused about their feelings, and that’s the desired effect – dreams often don’t have a causal relation between events, there exists non sequiter motivations for “scene changes” or action, and tone is implied on the most base, visceral level.

Psyduck, my favorite Pokemon

I just played a listing Pokemon game on this great list site (try naming all the countries in the world in 15 minutes)…only got 84 out of the original 151 Pokemon…not bad for a game I played 9 years ago…videogames really teach kids how to learn systems of interaction, the rules that govern a fictive world, etc. A lot of games are exercises in memory and cause/effect simulation…players learn how to learn and engage in exercises based on trivia and systems not directly applicable to the real world; it’s basically the same thing as a lot of liberal arts classes.

One of my favorite games of all time – DOTA, in particular, demands a tremendous amount of memory and game knowledge of its players. DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) is a third-party custom map for Warcraft III in which two teams of five compete in a mini war to destroy each others bases. Players control a single Warcraft hero (a powerful unit with four unique abilities) and push lanes of attack accompanied by waves of computer-controlled soldiers. Gameplay is both individual and team-oriented – players must focus on building their character effectively and efficiently throughout, using the gold and experience gained from killing waves of enemy troops to buy stat-enhancing items and learn new abilities while staying alive long enough to coordinate effective team attacks on the opposing base. An average game takes a little over an hour.

An artistic depiction of DOTA

The game is so popular that more players on battle.net (Blizzard’s online gaming server) are playing DOTA than any other game (including stock Warcraft III), and the game is responsible for many innovative and creative third-party plugins and programs that enhance Warcraft III online gaming. There exist player-created and monitored competitive leagues and a stringent rules/regulation system that punishes bad players by banning them – some of these players are so serious they only want really talented competition.

In line with the memorization of 151 pokemon (and their countless abilities, evolutions, and types), DOTA has 91 unique heroes…each with four unique abilities. There are 110 items to pick from; many of which have to be created by combining a number of more basic items with a recipe. Anyone who is good at DOTA (and the game has a very competitive community) must have complete knowledge of every aspect of the game. Successful play requires this expansive knowledge in order to both maximize your hero’s efficiency in item builds as well as adapt to enemy hero and item strategies. In hero fights, there’s no time to guess what spell an enemy just cast or what item they’re using–action must be instinctual and reactive, based on specific animations or effects…and there’s no forgiveness from your teammates if you make a mistake. There is usually an effective counter to any hero, play style/strategy, or item build: it’s basically the most complicated game of rock-paper-scissors ever invented.

Anyways, that pokemon list game just reminded me of DOTA, and since I’m writing my paper on ludology/narratology, I thought I’d write a post explaining it. Replayability is a big thing in videogames, and on the scale from pure narrative to pure ludology, it’s the difference between replayability and re-experience. DOTA has massive replayability because its game mechanics rely on interaction…dynamic and unique matches with infinite opportunity for change. Obviously, every game feels familiar, but you’d never play the game the same way twice.

Paper Topic

November 13, 2008 | 1 Comment

Edit:

Oof…so I’m back into World of Warcraft after like…8 months. Don’t know how that happened, but there’s an expansion with a new area and a new level cap of 80. Blizzard is really just printing money by now, but I’m enjoying the new level cap, my guild welcomed me back no questions asked, and the new areas are beautiful.

I played a demo for Left For Dead, a new survival horror game by Valve. The game is certainly applicable to our class because of its unusual choice of narrative layers…something I believe is innovative in the videogame genre. It’s pretty difficult for me to explain, but Left For Dead is a cooperative survival horror game with the action always portrayed as very cinematic—the scenarios are explicitly scenes from a horror film, the camera angles are all shots, the instructions are given by a director, and the characters are all actors. Players are controlling a actor in a zombie horror film, but since it’s a videogame, the gameplay is still real…it’s pretty interesting

So – now, a more fleshed-out paper proposal….

My paper is about how video game immersion, agency, internal logic, gameplay mechanics, etc. (and now advertising, paratextual community and creations, and marketing) affect the Ludology vs. Narratology debate.

My essay will address issues I’ve always had concerning the binary nature of classifying or categorizing anything in media studies…I’ll write about how there’s a ludology/narratology spectrum upon which games lie.

An example of the scale:

“Pure Narratology”

Storytron

Façade

Fallout 3

Psychonauts

Final Fantasy

Metal Gear

Halo series

Defense of the Ancients

Unreal Tournament/Counterstrike

Mirrors Edge

Soul Caliber, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter

Katamari Damachi

Rez

Pure Ludology”

Another genre I’m considering adding is historical fiction games like the wave of WW2 shooters and how they teach players to reimagine/renarrate historical events.

In terms of answering how where a game lands on the spectrum affects engagement or consumer digestion, I might address how games are evolving into a more complicated medium – perhaps the medium is on the verge of splitting into two distinct styles?

Ludology points will include the importance of gametime (comparison to episodic tv, discussion of pause/save features), multiplayer game logic (complicated strategies of DOTA, MMOs, first person shooters) zero-story games (and whether they actually exist…even Katamari Damachi goes to the trouble of providing backstory and unique aesthetic style), gameplay clichés (boss fights with repetition and weakness, level building, etc). Gameplay and grahpics often seem to be a primary focus of game developers…moreso the plot direction and size.

Narratology points will include immersion, interaction, and empathizing with character, cyber dramas and meta-narratives (videogame conventions, universal, shared human truths and language and their connection to storytelling), backstory and creation of believable fictive worlds, the difference between interactive storytelling and interactive fiction, and the meta- and micro- narratives of multiplayer and massively multiplayer games. Games always seem more pleasurable when they have “something to say.” Developers go to great lengths to create complicated and interwoven backstories and motivations for fighting and shooting games.

Some sources:

Books –

First Person-New Media as Story, Performance, and Game.

Persuasive Games-The Expressive Power of Videogames.

Internet –

Wikipedia for each of the games

http://www.brainygamer.com/the_brainy_gamer/2008/08/a-time-for-mani.html

http://www.ludology.org/articles/Frasca_LevelUp2003.pdf

http://www.ludology.org/articles/ludology.htm

http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/vigilant

Primary Research – Games played extensively (to completion) include Metal Gear Solid series (and their evolution from a balance between narrative gameplay to more-narrative), Final Fantasy series (especially FFVII’s narratology), Psychonauts (playful, inventive story over gameplay), Storytron (http://www.storytron.com/ an example of pure interactive storytelling), Facade (Narratology/interactive Storytelling), and WoW (player-created stories in a pre-conceived fictive world), fighting games (Soul Caliber IV, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter), multiplayer shooters (Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament, Halo series)

I have also observed a friend interact with the various forking branches of Fallout 3 (Narratology/interactive fiction)

A bit of a random point, but Matt and I both were discussing a new(ish) Gears of War 2 tv spot (watch it-it’s only a minute) that we both really liked for its cinematic quality. Games are obviously getting increasingly cinematic in their presentation, realism, and storytelling, and it’s nice to see a trailer that depicts this leap on prime time TV. Matt recalled a friend being perplexed at such cinematic presentations of a video games show more pervasively on television, but the industry is growing and maturing so rapidly, I certainly welcome it. On the other hand, I could see this trend going a little far, for it’s important to not completely abandon gameplay possibilities when marketing one’s game. I’d like to see a balance of the two (not split inside a commercial, but rather a balanced depiction of the game within a marketing campaign). I’d still like to see what a game’s play is like when watching an advertisement.

I really recommend watching the trailer – the subtle animation and interactions between these brutish soldiers as they plummet in the pod is really well done. It takes several viewings and a little extra-textual knowledge to fully appreciate their refined interactions, emotions, and motions-one solider looking dejectedly out the window when there’s nothing to see, the other looking vacantly at the ground as they get jostled around (very convincingly). There are moments of wordless understanding and subtle emoting, just as there is in the real world. Combined with an emotive and reflective song, this trailer really did it for me. Even though Valve claims “graphics have topped out” (that’s ridiculous, by the way), I look forward to strides in realistic graphical depiction of the intricacies of human behavior. Gameplay matters, but I think there might be a split in the future between pure gaming and interactive cinema. Games like Metal Gear Solid have really made strides in elaborate and filmic storytelling and suggest a trend of extremely long, episodic, and interactive storytelling.

Paper topic incoming, I promise…

Here’s Kyle and my Prestige video. I think the video went over well in class.

This assignment initially seemed quite daunting, but once Kyle and I actually sat down and started to brainstorm, the ideas came quickly and developed even more rapidly as we came across more clips scouring the film for appropriate quotes and shots.

We had very little trouble with SnapZ, but I can complain about free use and copyright all day (A Fair(y) Use Tale comes to mind immediately). I’m pretty sure everyone agrees that this assignment (and any academic assignment in general, especially if it uses shortened clips) fits under fair use clauses, but it’s difficult to make exceptions to bypass copyright laws. I think we’re in a bit of an awkward stage in which enforcing agencies don’t fully grasp how futile their struggle against new technologies is, and the people that suffer are the ones that want to follow the rules. Technology is advancing at a much more rapid pace than marketing. If one were to fill their 80GB (it’s the smallest size now) iPod with .99 cent songs, it would run them approximately $20,000! The only people who are forced to sit through FBI warnings on DVDs are those who buy the actual film instead of ripping the “operation prohibited by disc” features off their pirated DVDs, the people who earnestly pay their hard-earned money for a game like Spore get trapped by ridiculous DRM policies, and the poor people still buying CDs are paying through the teeth. Although a lot of distributors have not grasped the scope and continue to fight new technologies, some creators are embracing the digital revolution and acting intelligently and accordingly. Radiohead and Trent Reznor of NIN come to mind…release free lower-quality music and make profits off donations, concert sales, CD art/collectibles, and higher-quality music releases (NIN has released 3 free albums this year alone).

The Slip, one of NIN’s multiple free albums

Alright…back to Kyle and my project…As stated in class, we wanted to explicitly analyze the relationships between the two “Bordens” (Borden and Fallon in Borden guise) and their respective love interests. To do so, we initially come up with the idea of showing the 2×2 grid of each interaction (Borden, Olivia, Fallon, and Sarah), intercutting with an applicable quote from the movie. We then decided that in order to more obviously signify which brother is which to a naive audience (which certainly changes the nature of the text and presentation), we would employ a powerful stylistic technique (we thought about a few things before we came to the idea of black & white vs. color). Finally, after we got the four scenes in their appropriate color, we wanted to bookend the stylistic theme with scenes that contained a transition between the two colors (and brothers). I think starting with a transition like this really primes the audience to be cued into color for subsequent scenes and the dubbed clips over black answer a lot of the questions. We ended on a somber note with a clip of Sarah hanging herself, depicting the aftermath of these two brothers’ decision to share each other’s lives so intimately.

I really enjoyed working with Kyle and the assignment proved more fun that I initially believed it could be. In the future, perhaps showing an example from previous classes could get students’ creative juices and motivation levels flowing sooner.

Prestige

October 24, 2008 | 2 Comments


Click on David Bowie’s Mugshot or the play button for a link to “After All, my favorite Bowie song.

Leslie, I’m sorry Nolan is unbelievably wrong about Tesla…but you gotta enjoy yourself at the movies…pretend a little bit. “Wouldn’t it be cool if the world were like this…”

I Loved The Prestige…much more than The Illusionist; it seemed to be more focused on magic and illusions than Edward Norton’s film. I don’t mind the Hollywood trend of releasing two very similar films in quick succession (Deep Impact/Armageddon, A Bug’s Life/Ants, etc.). Having two films about the same subject gives an audience a binary choice to decide which is better and more successful.

As for the debate we were having last class concerning the use of “real magic” or “fringe science” as a deus ex machina or weak/unexpected plot device…I believe several things:

a) The cloning device isn’t really the most important part of the ending…I believe the Borden/Fallon switch is the film’s final prestige and true trick. Also, I like how Professor Mittell mentioned how the film condemns Angier’s need to resort to a machine or trick to pull off a magic trick…in the end, Borden is painted as the film’s true magician and I believe this answers the question of who is the real protagonist (more on that later).

b) I don’t think the use of the supernatural or fringe science is inconsistent with the atmosphere/aesthetic of the film nor does it come out of nowhere. I think the mad scientist living in solitude on a blustery mountaintop harnessing inexplicable natural phenomena or anomalies fits perfectly into the film’s 19th century illusionist atmosphere. I think something like an electrical cloning device would be believable if you put yourself in that sort of storyworld where so much was still unknown and science was more magical (I mean…electricity was considered a pretty magical thing initially). And, as we mentioned in class, clues such as the hats at the beginning of the film (and Bowie saying the machine worked when the hat just remained there), Cutter’s speech, Angier’s fear of the device, etc. all serve to foreshadow the “magical” and trick-free nature of the machine.

Anyone played Command and Conquer in a while?

So…who’s the protagonist? Angier seems an easy early pick, having lost a wife to Borden’s supposed negligence or insolence, quest to discover how Borden pulls off his impossible trick, and journey to find the ultimate trick. However, he definitely goes too far in his obsessions and comes across as both a weak magician (unwilling to get his hands dirty the same way Borden does), and a vengeful individual. You can definitely argue the film has two protagonists, ambiguous protagonists, or a switch in protagonist as the viewer slowly begins to ally themselves with Borden, but I think in the end, the Borden/Fallon duo are the film’s true protagonist(s?). The love interest (Scarlett Johansen) abandons Angier for him, he gets the upper hand in the end of the film, he’s wrongfully imprisoned and killed, and his talented magic trick and sacrifice is the film’s true prestige.

Interaction

October 22, 2008 | 1 Comment

First off, I stumbledupon this article today. I know most of us are seniors and possibly interested in the job market, and although I don’t believe it’s possible to completely eradicate negative information about oneself, it’s good to take steps to control it. So give it a shot…it’s got good preventive and damage control advice.

I went to the talk about the Labyrinth Project last Thursday and didn’t enjoy it much, but it brought up some interesting questions about the different ways people interact with objects (and presentations).

The presentation featured the interactive possibilities of these multimedia databases…basically virtual museums and memoirs that serve the standard archival, historical, and cultural purpose in the hopes of presenting a more interactive, visual, and accessible form of historical scholarship. Virtual spaces are very cool and an interesting topic for me, but this presentation fell a little short.

The project’s virtual, interactive memoirs with transmedia options give the participant (very?) limited control over what they choose to watch or in what order…but is this sense of choice any different than a patron’s decision in a museum, a DVD menu, or my interaction with Encarta 97 (deluxe)?

Content is king for the Labyrinth Project, and I respect their strides in incorporating multiple mediums and encourage cooperative, interactive, and applied scholarship…but their presentation doesn’t seem particularly revolutionary to me. Sure…multiple videofeeds and relaxing music of The Danube Exodus are a great way to present that particular memoir…but is it really that interactive? You can’t even stop videos once they start playing.

Some features of the database narratives were fairly interesting-if you take a step back, some options randomize, resort, or are omitted. This feature speaks to the arbitrary nature of both scholarship and sensory perceptions/memory. Some applied universal/meta-narratives and allowed the user to speculate and even explore rumored murder alternatives in the case of a specific memoir. And the pictures that had sliders so you could overlay a modern day photograph over a historic one were interesting…but nothing to write home about.

Maybe I’m spoiled. Maybe I expect more when I hear the word “interactive,” but this is nowhere near the virtual space of video games. What is interesting is how different people- old, young, tech-savy, historians, would interact with these presentations…if you can imagine young people getting interested in something like this. I was pretty skeptical about how excited a middle-schooler would be about this project. My attention span has to be measured in tenths of seconds, so I cringe to think what the average is like now. However, it’s always good to ask questions like “how would my mom use this media?” Not mine, specifically (she can beat me at Soul Caliber IV), but in general.

Seigfried, my mom’s favorite Soul Caliber Character

On a related note, it’s always interesting to watch a presentation’s Tipping Point, in terms of how many people have to gingerly leave before a shameless mass exodus occurs. I feel like I’m coming across as mean, and maybe it was a Thursday night, but if a presentation can’t hold the interest of young people, it’s not innovative technology.

More paper ideas and comments to come.

Alrighty – just some random followup from class today and some paper idea proposals.

I’m thinking about a few paper ideas here, but don’t really have anything super concrete yet… Initially, I’d like to do videogames…the most recent of which I’ve beaten are Soul Caliber IV, Peggle Nights, Psychonauts, Metal Gear Solid IV, and Grand Theft Auto IV.

Spore‘s narrative logic interests me in terms of its trademark Will Wright sandbox gameplay, but I’m not sure that type of narrative really applies to what we discuss in class. It’s not just games that tout infinite narrative options that will affect character and story (like Fable or Shinobi) that allow their users to create stories as they go. Any gameplay-based game without any significant plot (sports games, real-time strategies, massive-multiplayers games, or first-person shooters) afford their participants an opportunity to use their imagination and skill in order to create their own narratives, sometimes even cooperatively. These is just an extension of tabletop gaming. Also, I haven’t looked too far into Storytron, a communal, interactive storytelling program/website, but it looks pretty cool.

But I started thinking about focalization, slant, and filters in class today and what part of narratives are character-driven/subjective vs. the creator driven slants. Like The Sound and the Fury, in which the story of the failing Compson family is told three times over by three brothers; one who’s retarded, one suicidal , and one extremely cynical. Unreliable narrative techniques in film go back as far as Rashomon, an innovative Kurosawa film with unreliable narrators in which the audience acts as a sort of jury for a murder trial.

I’m trying to think about focalization in videogames and whether there exist games in which alignment and the idea of an unreliable narrator are important. In the stealth/espionage Metal Gear series (which span 50 years of political intrigue, combat, biology, and family opera), there are significant amounts of betrayals and twists, some of which come from intentionally deceitful narrators you’ve trusted for tens of hours of gameplay (Like Master Miller in MGS1 or Roy Campbell in MGS2). Were these betrayals portrayed in film, they’d simply be plot twists, but since they’re explicitly giving bad advice to the gamer for hours, I feel like the mechanism changes because if you fully immerse yourself in a game, you’re being expressly lied to, not watching a character getting lied to.

Final Fantasy Vii‘s main character and biggest twist (probably only in my opinion) is not Gamepro’s death of Aerith (and I disagree with most of their top 10, but try away from internet/blog lists as a general rule), but rather Cloud’s amnesia and inability to correctly remember the past…a serious game-changer 2/3’s through the game. The other thing that came to mind when I think Final Fantasy VII (which has remained my overall favorite game since I played it 12 years ago) is how the extended universe has been constantly expanded with cell phone games, a CG film, a few offshoot and follow-up games (of different genres on different consoles), and a short hand-drawn animated film. How the storyworld of media like FFVII and to a greater extent, something like Star Wars gets constantly added to in different mediums is pretty interesting.

The Cast of Final Fantasy VII, my favorite game.

Saying “favorite game” is also a complicated issue because the reasons for liking a game can be so diverse in terms of gameplay mechanics, story, replayability, multiplayer options, etc.

I also thought of the TV series My Super Sweet 16 (a show I have trouble turning off) as an example of filter and slant; with the filter being the spoiled teens’ skewed perceptions and expectations of the world and how they’re going to come across on TV, and the slant being MTV’s editing and extra writing, directing, etc. that makes shows like that not actually reality TV. The creator-driven slant seems really focused on making these teenagers a sideshow to be ridiculed, not admired or envied, but the teens don’t ever really seem to get this, seeing it as an opportunity to show everyone how privileged they are.

More organized/developed ideas to come as I scour my memory for games I’ve liked in the past.

also, does anyone need a partner for the remix project? I’m one of those guys that isn’t too experienced with video editing (especially final cut), but can rip and do other computer stuff pretty well.

Thoughts

October 16, 2008 | Leave a Comment

I just read Brett’s blog and thought her idea for a research paper was quite good. I started writing this response on her page, but it got too long and I didn’t want to clutter it, but I’m pretty sure she’ll get an email because I just linked to her blog. The iconography, typography, and visual aesthetic of a film are all very important parts of a film’s poster and fame. Certain fonts are so iconic (Blade Runner, Spiderman, Back to the Future) you can just see a single letter to know what film they came from.

Here’s a game where you guess what film an individual letter comes from (I scored a 30). Anyways…

It would also be fun to analyzes changes in posters through the decades (from classical hollywood to summer blockbuster), or in different parts of the world (Japan, Russia, etc), or how posters get changed for different countries (differences in US posters vs international release). There’s significant variance in how products are depicted from country-to-country and videogames and films are no different. Check out the Japanese (Left) vs. American (Right) covers for Rachet and Clank or Kirby.

I am also a sucker for soviet posters and aesthetic.

Even more applicable to your post is the controversy and reason behind the Zack and Miri poster you presented. I’m not sure if you were aware of the reasoning behind such a simple poster, but the proposed original idea was banned for being too controversial:

and they were forced to compromise with this totally tongue-in-cheek striped-down version:

It speaks towards the dual-standard censors have concerning sex and violence.

Even less related is an article i read recently about team colors in group competitive games. A study that analyzed thousands of Unreal Tournament matches showed that the red team won 55% of all games, which is a significant margin over the blue team. Granted, this study doesn’t really prove any causation, but I assume this figure is because the color red is so often a signifier for stopping (stop signs, lights, warnings, etc.) that a milisecond of confusion on a blue players part is enough for the red player to get the jump on him.

I really like Memento. I like how instead of tricking you, it teaches you how to watch it from the very first shot of a Polaroid in reverse, and the detective work is in the audience’s hands for every single scene. Leonard solves his problem at the same time the audience does, and even though his decision to stop the cycle is the beginning of the final iteration of his killing spree, it certainly provides enough closure to me as an ending, albeit not a conventionally temporal one.

The unusual choice of reverse-temporal narration allows the audience to really associate with Leonard’s anterograde amnesia…it’s a very powerful empathetic tool…the camerawork seemed very objective at most points…you really felt like you were following Leonard with a handheld camera at times, solving and inspecting as he does…witnessing his tattoos for the first time as he does daily.

The film is definitely a puzzle; it requires a certain level of concentration, even after multiple viewings…we’re just not wired to think of time in that fashion. It’s engaging, demanding, and interactive; even after multiple viewings I have to really concentrate on how the narrative tells the plot.

As Matt mentioned on his blog, this editing technique doesn’t feel gimmicky even though the DVD feature that allows you to watch the movie in conventional temporal order loses almost all of the effect. The genius is in the writing. I don’t think the technique is trendy or gimmicky-I think the script is really innovative.

The reverse-narration totally changes the way a story is told, with twists, teasers, suspense, and betrayals happening early in the plot (and late in the narrative). The style demands the audience to ask questions that they’ll soon know the answer to (why does he seem drunk? Why does she have a black eye?), and continuity techniques like the bookends on every scene or the scars, clothing, and broken windows are very helpful in keeping the whole thing together in your head.

“I have to believe in a world outside my own mind. I have to believe that my actions still have meaning, even if i don’t remember them. I have to believe that when my eyes are closed, the world is still there. Do I believe the world’s still there? Is it still out there?”

Leonard’s inner monologue about the way he perceives the world is applicable to all sorts of media, narratives, and storyworlds. The most convincing films are the ones whose worlds seem to continue after we leave the theatre or take out the DVD…they’re the ones that have convincing set pieces and developed characters.

The same principle applies in videogames such as the grand theft auto or metal gear solid series…in a truly seamless world, we want to happen across a city block or guard as if he’s been doing this all day…not like we just loaded a new level. With higher-capacity hard drives and more advanced engines, this type of seamless gaming is becoming more and more possible and gamers are exploring entire worlds instead of a series of rooms and loading bars…it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

In unrelated news, Gametap has released Psychonauts, a game touted for its innovative and in-depth narrative, for free. It can be found here. I’m playing it and considering it for my essay, but I’m also considering the famous Metal Gear Series.


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