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Newsletter 2/2002
4.Jg. / No. 22 - ISSN 1617-6901
earlier Newsletter

ed. by Beat Suter (Editorial by the Guest Editor)

Content Newsletter:
"Max Payne" / "Language of New Media" / "Liter@tur" / Space and Time in Computer Games / "Hypertext" / experiencing hyperfictional readings / Adventure Games / Immersion and Virtuality / Space in Computer Games / Object Oriented GamingNarrative for Children on CD-ROM / "Wiggles" / Interactive Media for Children / Game Worlds / Writing-Tool Nicholas / Game and Narrative Structures in Adventure Games / "The End of Books - or Books without End?" / www.game-culture.com / Concreativity in Digital Literature / "Riven" vs. "Pokémon" / human-game console

Space,time and body in action games. "Max Payne" [German]

The essay examines genre discourses in the action game "Max Payne" (2001). It draws attention to notions of space, time, and bodies by positioning the game in relation to Hollywood action movies. This entails an examination of the technological specificity of the cinematic and game apparatus respectively. Gunzenhäuser argues that gaming technologies mediate presence in historically and culturally specific ways, allowing male users to experience their subject function in distinct ways. Therefore, an intertextual examination of the computer gaze allows a reappraisal of computer-generated environments in terms of cultural constructions of identity.

Lev Manovich: "Language of New Media" [German]

Heiko Idensen reviews Lev Manovich's work which was announced as "the first systematic and rigorous theory of new media" and has enthusiastically been taken on board by several critics. Idensen questions why is it worthwhile reading Lev Manovich's book in the printed version or indeed read it at all? He also questions if Manovich's collection of texts really is a book about the 'language of new media'.

Schmidt-Bergmann/Liesegang (Hgg.): "Liter@tur. Computer-Literatur-Internet" [German]

The book aims at highlighting consistency and symbiotic potential of computer technology, the endlessness of the net and and an open definition of literature. Christian Bachmann calls this digital dragon slaying: a very honorable goal which claims nothing less than to carve out the "aesthetical dimension of digital literature".

Game worlds. Relation of space and time in computer games [German]

Game- and web designer Kai Thomsen describes space as fundamental ground for each game. Rules of a game are the natural law for this game world. While as a game-designer has almost complete control over appearance of the space of his game world, he has to part with some of the temporal control in favor of the player. If a game recurs on narrative elements the world has to fulfill narrative needs as well.

Stephan Porombka: "Hypertext. Zur Kritik eines digitalen Mythos" [German]

Heiko Idensen's review of the book "Hypertext" by Stephan Porombka demystifies the therein attempted demystification of digital hyper-myths. He critics the way Porombka methodically tries to root the hyperfictions of the 80ies in the totalitarian science fiction worlds of the 50ies. He criticizes how Porombka values text adventures as the only successful media format in terms of a text-reader-transfer and the way Porombka calls any attempts of exteriorizing thinking in software structure a cultural negligence.

Experiencing hyperfictional readings. Reader response aspects of narrative online-texts [German]

How do we experience the reading of a hyperfiction? On every journey through literary worlds of online-readings lurks the question of how to respond to the readings. Christian Bachmann analyzes the experiences made in online-readings and shows two components which are very much intertwined: the narrative and its functions of understanding.

Adventures as happening and "ac-counting" [German]

Despite all talk of open art, interactive literature or cinematisation it is adventure games which describe those problems of graphic theory and organization of databases of which they historically originate from. Claus Pias is doing research on the first adventure games, introduces us to their ontology of data and topology and asks what can be counted or accounted as a (narrative) happening under these circumstances

Diving into the Otherworld. Immersion and virtuality [German]

In books, movies and computer games you often find stories of fantastic happenings and immersions. A protagonist follows a white bunny, is swept away by a storm, swallows a colourful pill ... and finds him- or herself all of a sudden in a parallel world of which he had no knowledge. Daniel Ammann uses a few very illustrative examples in his search for central constituents of immersive experience.

"Unreality": Space as subtraction of world. Games between reality and possibility [German]

What kind of concepts are used to build games? A comparison of concepts for building spaces in the games "Myst III Exile" and "Unreal Tournament" shows some basic differences: an additive and constructed world, in which topographical borders are a conceptual part of the game. On the other side a world full of (narrative) possibilities of which levels can be cut out. The ego-shooter and multiplayer game Unreal turns fundamental (game) aesthetics and formalities upside down.

Object oriented gaming [German]

I am that what I can control! or why Gregor Samsa would wake up as PacMan in our computer age ... - Starting up a new game who doesn't know the feeling, suddenly not knowing anymore who or what you are, what to do and how to move. That is how Gregor Samsa must have felt when he woke up as a bug in Franz Kafka's story... Mirjam Weder shares some thoughts with us on the fact, that computer games are made from objects which can be controlled and manipulated by the player to different degrees.

Genettes mode of "Ordnung". Is it the central problem of narrative for children on CD-ROM? [German]

Children stories which were adapted for computer games try to unite narrative and ludic structures. These connections have to overcome the gap between fixed temporal organization of narrative and free choice of ludic structures. Bünger's contribution analyzes the problem with methods of narrative theory and outlines prototypical models

"Wiggles" - Uncertain space and cyclic time [German]

The categories of "uncertain space", which originates in film science and "cyclic time" are very typical for strategy games. Karin Wenz analyzes the strategy adventure Wiggles in respect to these typical categories of space and time. The cyclic experience of time can be lead back to loops typical for computer programming and appears in the game itself as recursions.
Comments by Wiggles-Programer Axel Hylla

Interactive media for children and young adults. A report [German]

Judith Mathez introduces the research project of the Swiss Institute for media for children and young adults in Zürich and its major topics on interactive and digital media.

Game worlds. Pixel-books make (hi)story [German]

Compared with a fictional print-text narrative structures and marks of fictionality (if ... then) in the games "Myst", "Riven" and "Myst III: Exile" are deeply interrelated with the paradigm of the image. Mela Kocher analyzes the diaries of these games, focuses on the procedures of experiencing games and text via the magic linking books and the prison notes the player has to immerse herself into while exploring the island worlds.

using and developing the collaborative writing-tool Nicholas and its extensions [German]

"user use media - media use user - new media need a culture": joachim maier and rené bauer have been working and experimenting with their writing- and media-tool Nicholas for some time. Nicholas offers a so-called "schwebendes schreiben", hovering writing and has been tested in different seminars at universities. in their unique style maier and bauer describe those tests and the specific characteristics of the new tool as well as its cultural and media embedding.

Game structure and narrative structure in graphic adventure games [German]

Nothing new under the sun. - Klaus Walter analyzes the specific potential of "interactive narrative" in adventure games. He separates game-play and narrative and describes "interactive narrative" as an additive chain of selections which generate nothing more than simple changes between playful and narrative units.

Jane Yellowlees Douglas: "The End of Books - or Books without End?" [German]

Beat Suter reviews "The End of Books - or Books without End?" by Jane Yellowlees Douglas. The central question of the book is how to read a hyperfiction. How do I approach digital literature? Besides the well-known textual hypertexts by Moulthrop and Joyce Douglas considers a few so-called "digital narratives" (selected games) in her thorough research. And Douglas outlines something called "New Realism", a phenomenon which will shape the future of reading.

Website www.game-culture.com - a Website-Review [German]

A center of information for game studies or a private collection of resources? Anja Rau tries to find out if the editor Sue Morris reaches the indicated aims with her website www.game-culture.com. Are the presented information really significant for the gaming community? Rau's contribution starts with the fundamental question of how to review a collection of online resources, it is the followed by a review of the details of game-culture.com.

Concreativity as a category of digital literature [German]

Please continue writing yourself right here! - The scientific research of projects by several authors finds itself not only in a jungle of definitions but in need of thorough research. Judith Mathez takes a critical look at some definitions and introduces us to the category of "Concreativity". She places multiple authoring in a literary and sociological environment. And she analyzes some central characteristics of this literary category of "Concreativity" with examples of digital media for children and young adults.

Narrative structures of screen games. "Riven" versus "Pokémon" [German]

"Riven" and "Pokémon" are two classic screen games which use two different narrative concepts. In Riven the player is immersed by narrative density and a first-person perspective, in Pokémon the immersive aspect is to be found in the dialog structure of the game. Mela Kocher draws parallels to face-to-face-communication and reading of literary print-texts with means of speech act theory and iser's reader response theory.

can we run games on the human game-console? play or eject? [German]

the provocative question is the starting point for the two-sided essay by rené bauer and joachim maier - which again is part of their amazing project of collaborative writing experiments. the central subject is "zusammenzüge", merging objects in gaming worlds. is your screen starting to flicker? are we still playing? how much should a game designer earn? can be be played on? play or eject?

Newsletter 2002:

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Newsletter 2001:

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Newsletter 2000:

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Newsletter 1999:

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