Thursday, March 4, 2010

Manovich Response

In video games of the past, the plot and the interactive part of the game was very focused and linear. Even in games where the ability to go everywhere was advertised, there were still certain hints and certain boundaries that you could not step out of. In this sense, the old video game was similar to the literature of movies and books. Some might say that these video games are giving us freedom, since, if you take video games as metaphor for our own destinies as human beings, we have a direction but are still allowed to venture out. However, I argue that this freedom is not accurately presented in any form of media, be it new media or old. The key to all of this is that video games, books, movies are created. They are written and planned and executed, reviewed to perfection. In this sense, nothing can really truly imitate a true writerly text. Even those games that allow you to choose your own ending and boast having thousands of different possibilities are created. Every last possible ending is made up or, by way of some algorithm, made into being. These are not true writerly texts. A real writerly text is one that allows the reader to make up EVERYTHING and anything. No endings set up already, no backgrounds already made up. Nothing can be premeditated. Manovich said in “Navigable Space” that “in contrast to modern literature, theater, and cinema, which are built around psychological tensions between the characters and movement in psychological space, these computer games return us to ancient forms of narrative in which the plot is driven by the spatial movement of the main hero.” All video games are like this, regardless of what their manufacturers tell us.

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