[…] (This begins another of the Great Debates on WRT.) Previous debates: Frustration, Hamlet, Intelligent Design. […]]]>
Thank you both for your comments.
I think Janet Murray’s use of Hamlet is quite provocative. On the one hand it sets a literary standard for interactive drama. On the other hand, it takes for its title a Shakespearean character who does not act much at all (aside from killing Polonius) until immediately before he is killed. If this electronic agency? Does the choice of Hamlet as the model for interactive drama pose an unsolvable paradox
But perhaps there are other interpretations:
Perhaps Hamlet the play is the perfect interactive version of Hamlet the game. Following the lines of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, we could see the only way of fully appreciating Hamlet’s experience to be enacting his role not by choosing our actions, but by following the script, being bound by the pre-scripted role.
In a different way: to be (or not) Hamlet is to agonize. So perhaps the game play would have to be wrestling to solve puzzles within puzzles (ala Myst or IF).
But to pursue your suggestion, let’s try to answer the question:
What are the “human principles embodied in Hamlet”?
What is the essence of Hamlet? The inability to choose? The madness of life? The battle between duty and civility? The antagonisms of ethical living and revenge?
The secondary questions involve where this essence should be reproduced: in the gameplay? in the system mechanics? in the events?]]>
Of course you can’t make an interactive version of Hamlet. Hamlet is a play, a fixed document. You can no more interact with Hamlet the play that you could interact with a photograph or a novel or a song. You can read, look at, or listen to these things, but you can’t interact with them because they can’t react to your actions.
What you could do is make an interactive storyworld reflecting the human principles embodied in Hamlet. Hamlet the play shows one example of those principles, one instantiation of how they all work out with each other. Thus, you could make a “guy and gal from warring families fall in love” storyworld and let it play out. In such a case you could have all sorts of developments: they decide they don’t really love each other anyway, father marries daughter to somebody else against her will, they elope, one gets killed but the other lives, and so forth. The results would not be the same as the original play, but the core dramatic issues would remain intact.
The fact that the end result does not duplicate the play is irrelevant. If you want the play, go see the play. If you want something interactive, it will be different. Isn’t that logical?]]>
Why not include Hamlet - The Text Adventure?
OTOH, I’m really not very interested in role-playing Hamlet. I’d rather meet the Hamlet character in a virtual bar or something, and interact with him as myself. Didn’t Mark Bernstein argue that the guy needed to get drunk and get laid? Maybe that could be the game: Try to get Hamlet too drunk to kill :-)
BTW, Jabberwacky just repeats whatever his users say to him, so an occasional “riffing off Hamlet” is not a designed-in feature, but an accidental encounter with another Jabberwacky user’s whims…]]>