Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Ah, it's a story!
Thank you Mark, that did clear things up. I was confused by your first entry on Another World:

Another World is a game. You are the Resident Administrator of a new Colony on Another World. You make the decisions. You choose what to build, and where. It's a little like SimCity. (It's loosely coupled and multiplayer; there are other colonies out there, and they can influence your colony. But they're a long way away...)

Addressing the reader: the second person address as in "Wake up! Look about you! Look at that boy over there. Yes, that exquisite elf lad, Jehann's boy. Tell me: don't you want him?" doesn't change the fact that this is a story, and told by you.

Stories and games have things in common, but one of the areas where they rarely correspond is in how they flesh out the society and makes it explicit to the users. In a story, you can indicate a past, a structure of society, the laws of nature as well as the legislation and the culture, which the reader then has to assume from your writing. In a game, particularly a role-playing game, you have to give the players this background explicitly, because a large part of the pleasure of playing means manipulating these rules.

When I say that they rarely correspond, it's because there are examples of how they do. Tolkien's Silmarillion is one such work - although that was edited and published by the son, not JRR Tolkien. It's been used as the model for how to flesh out a background for role-playing games since the first Tolkien-fans started making their own Middle-Earth characters. I would also love to see Silmarillion as an electronic hypertext, the stories linked to each other, and then linked to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit as well. I think Silmarillion already is a hypertext... all it needs is a more efficient medium in which to be studied. And I think Tolkien might have loved the multi-linear writing spaces, such as Tinderbox.

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