It has been a while, but I stumbled upon this HypertextNOW piece on Hypertext Narrative and Baseball and was struck by similarities in the metaphorical approach. Bernstein says that “The patterns that help us understand hypertext fictions are patterns we see in other large-scale narratives…” and goes on to observe that baseball is dominated by cycles, and has an inner game of ephemeral possibilities and alternate realities. He also terms the statistics aspect “navigational feints” - an interesting idea….
Myself, I think I’m most interested in the various reality / unreality argumants that get mobilized around professional sports - for instance, the two recent highprofile lawsuits.]]>
Ah, very good, Jeremy. I like your analysis of the role of chance and skill.
This also ties in well with the questions I post in CPG about the ways in which “The Movies” can be used as authorware.
I guess I’d also raise the question of exactly how important “authorial intent” is in general.
It seems to me that “Conflict” is inevitable in fantasy football and probably a variety of stories. Of course, this relates to the question of whether atheletic competitions are dramas. I tend to think they are.
Add the life stories of your players and your ficitonal relationship to them as manager working with other managers and I think you have quite a bit of storymaking going on.
Although whether it is at the level of “Starcraft” (with you watching your empire rise or fall from a far) or whether it is at the level of the Sims (with you watching the minute details of your players’ lives) seems up to you.
Of course, I’m redefining the authorial relationship here as “the activity of shaping stories out of the material presented to you”– a more Barthesian notion — than actively telling a story with your team.
A story, here, is the collaborative byproduct (between you and the real-life activies of the players) in your quest to win the season.
For those following narratives of fantasy sports, the excellent blog of video game IP law Patent Arcade has a brief update on commercial fantasy sports being sued as illegal gambling. The issue as framed by the plaintiff is whether fantasy sports are fundamentally chance-based or skill-based. Can players meaningfully influence outcomes?
At first I thought this argument was a bit of a dead end - most games involve a mix of skill and chance. Still, arguably to the extent that the outcomes of a contest are determined by skill, it is not gambling. Chance operations exist in both a set of tennis and a round of poker, and I play neither, but I know that my likelihood of winning a hand of poker against a top-ranked poker player are much, much higher than my likelihood of winning a set of tennis. Of course, my odds of winning a poker tournament against top ranked players are almost as good as winning a tennis tournament - essentially nil.
For our consideration of fantasy sports as narrative, this argument about skill-chance has interesting implications for author-debates - can there be meaningful authorial intent, or is any drama solely a byproduct of chance?]]>
Ah. So you are saying that the statistics are more narrative-inducing than say the food pyramid on a cereal box because, while both can be narrated, the statistics have the underlying set of sports game rules which are… a genre? Schema, or a schema-system?
The interesting thing to consider about this argument is whether under it the authors of games (either basketball or Shutes and Ladders) could be considered equivalent to the authors of generator-art: they designed a schema with a beginning, middle, and end which was then actualized each time by participants in accordance with constraints or rules. Or conversely, if generator artists should be considered less similar to hypertext authors and more to amusement park architects - experience designers….]]>
This what I’ve been thinking, Jeremy,
Even when we read an account of a game, we experience narration. Doesn’t the samething happen when we read just the statistics from a game. (I recently did this with a Steeler’s blowout, following all the numbers that built a narration of domination).
Along these lines, then, Fantasy Sports offers that same statistical narrative with all of the partial narratives that populate sports reporting, partial in as much as they contribute to a larger story of the system…
Here is a cognitive psych approach to this discussion.
the spectator brings innate capacities to their perception of media. The spectator’s top-down processes are fluid in relation to the media, allowing the data to be reconstructed within certain parameters offered by the narrative. Narrative comprehension operates through various acts of analysis involving hypothetical exploration, speculation, confirmation, and composition of possible combinations of goals and actions.
So this definition of narration is a bit broader than the one you cite. But I do believe that games, matches, and meets, are more like narratives than like life itself. They have beginnings, protagonists, antagonists, conflict, and resolution. When represented iconically in statistics, they still build a narrative in a way that life does not, given the pre-existing narratives into which we read them.]]>