I bundle within ‘cross-media entertainment’ the porting you’re citing and the experimentations with narrative arcs. Here is a quick guide to the different ways I think content can be produced in the Age of Cross-Media Production:
Repurposing: republishing the same content on each platform. An example would be a pdf of a chapter of a book you can buy.
Altering: commissioning, editing and redesigning content according to the affordances and limitations of each platform. Which is where I think your examples come in Jeremy.
Adaptation: a version of the same content (same story, characters etc) in different formats on different platforms. For example, Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of Tolkien’s LoTR.
Augmentation: providing additional, complementary and contradictory information in different platforms and formats. An example is The Matrix universe. Vital narrative information is distributed in the anime, comics, websites and videogame. Each component has a relatively high degree of dependency of each other (in terms of the overall coherence) but they are self-sufficient.
Stretching: distributing a plot/message across platforms. Examples of this form can be seen in ‘alternate reality games’, where the story is distributed across websites, emails, videos and so on. It is not located in one single ‘text’.
For me, ‘polymorphic narrative’ comes into play when you are augmenting and stretching.
And as for intertextuality. I meant in the sense that each experience of Adventure is not isolated. Each iteration for each device is not necessarily for new audiences, I’d presume they’re for audiences who are already aware of Adventure. In this sense they all refer to each other…]]>
Nice discussion here, Jeremy. I see the distinction you’re making between this phenomenon, intertextuality, and cross-media storytelling. One can also distinguish porting a game from reworking it, although platform differences among other things can mean that the former often implies the latter.
From one perspective, it makes sense that Adventure is both ported and reworked (extended, modified, or compressed) by programmers. If you can reimplement it on a new system, you can also change it, so, why not go ahead and change it to try to improve it? But from another perspective it seems a bit odd. Claiming that “it plays Adventure” doesn’t seem as meaningful if you’re allowed to make arbitrary changes to Adventure to make it into a condensed version (Scott Adams’s Adventureland), a menu-driven game, a text-and-graphics game (Level 9’s Colossal Adventure), or even an all-graphics game (Warren Robinett’s Adventure for the Atari VCS).
On the other hand, commercial ports of video games, particularly early arcade-to-console ports, have traditionally changed games around in pretty severe ways, so there are precedents from outside of hacking and recreational computing for proving “it runs X” while changing the value of X.
I know that someone at MIT (Dave Lebling?) ported Space War to the IMLAC vector-graphics smart terminal in the 1970s, and that the first first-person shooter Maze was reworked and ported around to some extent long before Doom. I wonder, more generally, what the early history of recreational porting was like?]]>
Christy - my sense is that neither cross-media nor intertextuality quite fits my purpose here, but I’m trying to tease it out - maybe you can help me.
Kristeva’s “intertextuality” refers to a mosaic of quotations - that is, Adventure as constituted by its references and allusions to Tolkein, Mammoth Cave, and so on.
“Storyworld” refers to the larger assumed reality within which a fiction or set of fictions occurs. Middle Earth and Narnia are storyworlds originally constituted by sets of books - later authorized film adaptations were set in the same storyworld neccessarily as part of retelling essentially the same story. By contrast, the Transformers storyworld is constituted by cartoon series, movies, comic books, toy pamplets and more. These media routinely do not adapt or retell the same authorized story - rather, they all tell different stories set in the same storyworld. Fans evaluated the fidelity of a “Lord of the Rings” films to the story. However, fans evalute the fidelity of a “Transformers” film to the storyworld.
As I understand it - please feel free to correct me - a particular narrative arc can be said to be “cross-media” if it has distributed events - for example, introducing a character in a comic book, killing the character in a movie, and having the character’s ghost return to haunt the TV series. Only by crossing media can the audience follow that narrative arc, the narrative is cross-media.
In this sense, the massive adaptation of Adventure (although it does vary significantly between versions) is neither intertextual nor cross-media in the sense I’m considering it, although it does have elements of both, as do most media. A player’s sense of Adventure as pan-media arises out of experiencing many version, implementations, and adaptations - one need not consider Tolkein, or King Arthur, to get this sense, and so it is not an intertextual experience in the way I understand Kristeva to mean when she says “quotation.”
Similarly, one need not follow any complete narrative arc from the the 430 to the 550 point Adventure, nor from the 350 to the 501 point version - one does not experience narrative closure by crossing media. Instead, I’m considering a kind of abstracted sensibility - like the work of Jason Salavon, or the project 50 people see, that asks “in what sense are all of these things the same thing?” Salavon’s Every Playboy Centerfold, The Decades modestly proposes that the centerfold image genre has a median and mean - that the genre is a thing in itself, with all instances mere deviations from an invisible common center. I wonder, is it more radical or less to consider Adventure as a thing in itself, a pan-media entity with many manifestations? By inclination and training, I know that we are all more inclined to study differences than similarity, but this is where my thinking is leading me….]]>
You’re onto my favourite topic Jeremy. :)
Since there are so many platforms available now, and at the same time an ever increasing amount of arts types, it is inevitable that stories and games will find themselves adapted over and over again. These factors, coupled with the networking power of the Internet (more people find out about more things) and the ease of grassroots production, make for an entertainment eco-system that sees clones and love-childs popping up everywhere.
You pose the idea of ‘pan-media’ which seems to lean on the side of the awareness of the transmedial aspects of the work: the storyworld as opposed to the original instantiation of it. Is that correct? Then you mention an implementation that is just an extended reference to other implementations. Are you meaning this in a different sense from Kristeva’s “intertextuality”?
Have you found an answer to your question, what is the “real work”? ;)]]>