Blog Post

Intro and project overview - games and classics!

If you ever have the (delightful) chance to have a beer with me, you'll quickly come to realize I am a dreadful storyteller. I just don't quite get the build-up right or the punchline or the facial expressions, the hand motions, or really any of the parts that matter. In my head it sounds like a good story, but that's about it.

Maybe that's why I love studying storytelling. As a Classics student, I have my fair share of great stories, but I also have a deep love for stories told through games. Much of my work connects the two.

I have two main creative projects right now aside from the writing of papers and dissertation - a game called Storydeck and an interactive fiction experiment on Euripides' Medea.

Storydeck is in the final stages so I won't talk about it too much here. I designed it to be a creative application of the ideas in my dissertation which talks about narrative theory, linearity, rules, and the navigation of authorship in Homer and video games. So then, Storydeck is a game where there are pieces of stories that can be combined into familiar tales or into not-so-familiar versions of those tales. It's a somewhat whimsical take on an adventure game, one without combat or an avatar, in which you discover as you create and create as you explore. Maybe one day relatively soon (the old Blizzard kind of soon), you'll get to try it out!

The other project I'm working on is a more meaty exercise and one on which I welcome input. I'm taking Euripides' Medea and putting it into an interactive space with a few questions in mind. Through this project, I want to understand the character of Medea, or rather, I want to understand her characterization better. She's a sympathetic kind of monster, and we the audience are led through the rollercoaster of sympathy-to-disgust primarily through her choices. If I move those choices into the agency of the player, how does that change the character? How do I model choices of a character that is fated (plotted) to make the choices she does? How real are the choices she makes? I work with possible-worlds theory in my dissertation a great deal so I wonder how possible these alternate choices of hers are. If Medea made other choices, where would the story start being a different story? When would Medea start being a different character?

I welcome thoughts and questions from my fellow Scholars. If you are working on digital storytelling, I'd especially love to chat. Drop me a note!

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4 comments

One of my students, Michael Thomet, a first-year Masters in Rhetoric/Composition here, I think would be really interested in talking with you. He's a designer, with a strong focus on incorporating deep narrative into good game mechanics. Here's his blog, or you could track him down on Facebook.

I'd love to talk with you about a project high up on my B-list, examining the role of loot in the Iliad and in WoW - maybe I'll buy you a beer at the HASTAC conference, and you can tell me stories :D

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I will check out his blog - thanks for that!

Are you familiar with Roger Travis' work at all? He mostly works on GBL stuff related to Classics, but his blog has had some fun posts about loot and the Iliad.

I've also done some work on the heroic code in the Iliad and that in game culture, particularly raiding culture. Happy to chat about that if it is related to what you are thinking about. I'm also always up for beer. :D

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