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Monday, May 31, 2004

Abstract: Story, plot and character in virtual game worlds

I have been procastinating for days, but finally I managed to spit out an abstract for a conference im going to in september! I think setting up this blog probably was one of my avoidance behaviors :). But as always - when i finally get on to it i have fun!

Story, plot and character in virtual game worlds
How can we deal with story, plot and character in games that have thousands of self-appointed heroes and heroines? They are all main characters – and players. In the virtual game world Star Wars Galaxies each player creates his or her story in the now of playing. The player’s individual story discourse is created out of the narrative potential that is present in the virtual world. Has the player played along with the plans of the criminal organization Black Sun without knowing it in mission after mission? The most exiting plot is the one that is acted out between the players and their closest co-players – what Luke Skywalker or Jabba the Hut are up to is fairly uninteresting on the day the player’s secret beloved marries another while the player is also worrying that a rival clan will take the opportunity to attack the city.
In virtual game worlds with thousands of simultaneous players the creative challenge is to create narrative potential in a created universe. This context it is about shared world creation rather than about shared authorship. This paper presents the conditions for players and developers to create elements that in turn create narrative potential, how these conditions are used, and what possibilities there are for further development by using the concepts plot, story and character as starting-points.