More Unsymposium Thick Description

No idea where Nadine pulled these from, they read like some odd episode out of West Wing, but a weird list of coincidental things in history, some of which make you go, “really?”. It isn’t that one caused the other, but in thinking of history as linear the simultaneity of the world gets completely lost. History didn’t happen then, it must be with us now in some way (history is what is remembered now of then). Intertwingled. All the way down. David thinks about hypertextual reading for things that aren’t hypertext (we do this with most of our media these days) and the importance of the link. A link is treated by Google as a sort of endorsement, that a link from that term or phrase, to that page, means there’s probably some relation between the link text and the destination, and this is a very important part of how Google ‘understands’ the web as a reputation network – links to a page build its reputation. Brittany has a brief but useful list of points to ponder.

Tiana wondered about games and narrative. Let’s be clear. There are three things that matter to this question. Play, games, and stories. Every known culture has had each, but they are not the same as each other. I can play without needing to win. I can play with stories, I can play with words, I can play games. Games are things that, like play, have agreed upon (if temporary) rules, but games are ends directed, games are things you win. Remember play does not have to include winning, games do. Stories we read and try to understand. They can be playful (in English we use the same word for play as in children playing, and playing a game, other languages use different words for this), and we can play with language or film in telling these stories. But when we ‘use’ a story we don’t play it like a game, there is nothing to win. (And I can play many video games that have stories and win them, paying little if any attention to the story.) Games don’t need stories to be games. They can use stories, sure, but they don’t need stories. Games, not video games, but games as a general category. As I used as an example, Tetris. The argument isn’t about whether games can use stories (that’s a trivial argument), it’s whether narrative is fundamental to games. My view is that if you can have games that don’t have any ounce of narrative in them (which is different to what we might narrate about them afterwards) then narrative is not a fundamental requirement of a game. They’re different sorts of things. They can be mixed, but so can oil and water.