David Byrne’s Journal: Current

Seriously, give this one a read. Good shit.

David’s Journal: Current:

“Gaming and narrative

As computer games inch beyond shoot-‘em-ups into the narrative territory of books and movies I wonder how far the medium can actually go. I wonder if a more interactive and involving version of narrative might emerge that will replace, at least partly, those traditional ones.

I believe that narrative — the story, the myth — is something we have a deep psychological attachment to, and sharpening one’s carnage skills or doing a treasure hunt are not acceptable or satisfying substitutes. They are exciting and fun, but they don’t serve the same needs and don’t have the deep and lasting resonance with us as individuals and as a social group. Stories, however fragmented or disjointed, do that.

Games are edging closer, though. Characters have back stories and sort of personalities, but they don’t really change, evolve or “grow” — the popular Hollywood term. They remain the same person at the end as they were at the beginning, but maybe with more stuff or accumulated points. The primal hierarchical struggle for power and status is there, something males have found ways to practice in thousands of forms — from childhood games to office politics — but not much in the way of development. Something else males have been accused of more than once. Women, for the most part, are just not genetically programmed to find any of this of much interest.

We don’t much identify with the characters in videogames either, except to the extent that they are avatars of ourselves. They don’t exist apart from our own decision-making. In books and movies the characters have their own motivations and personalities, we may love or hate them, but they are not us. Somehow the fact that they are not exactly the same as us allows us to invest more emotionally in them and their future. The distance allows us to see part of ourselves — a problem, an issue or a relationship — being acted out to some unknown conclusion. Or even to a known conclusion — many myths and stories don’t lose power even though we know the ending. So it’s not about the surprise of the change, it’s about the resonance and thrill of observing it happen”

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