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The virtual and interactive: Inter-subjectivity in Games Essay



Currently, scholarly criticism of games utilizes them as a medium for expressing a legend, and as a ‘lucid’ experience where an aspect of old legends is simply secondary to the game itself. Basing on existing crucial work on games, premises of immersion, changing opinions on tales regarding a game and on what game is, this paper argues that narrative premises are not sufficient in tackling gaming.

The argument of this essay is based on the way that a game enables a narrative which is dissimilar in form from a narrative in any medium, and in what gaming may have in teaching people regarding a more old kind of narrative (Turkle 180). The paper uses aspects of actor-based premise and cybernetic theories in constructions and reconstructions of the self in virtual reality by Sherry turkle and navigable space by Lev Manovich in explaining how a narrative role in a game via the ‘physical composition’ in the context of any game.

The argument is that a video game achieves a different impact compared to other mediums through developing different relationships with its users via the physical composition of a hybrid character. Due to this dissimilar impact, a video game enables a narrative which cannot be copied in other medium without critical change to be used in this medium.

The place of narrative in video game

This thesis integrates earlier significant experiences of video games and the importance of narratives in analyzing video games. Narrative is irrelevant in gaming partially due to lack of subjectivity during gaming. A game is subjective, enabling interactive communication between technological device comprising of hardware and coding system.

The hardware represents a collection of parts functioning in unison and the coding system represents the software playing the video game. Thus the negotiating platform is an individual watching the game from a monitor connected to the devices themselves, and the interfaces, keyboards, and joysticks or mouse, presenting an ordinary link between the command of the individual playing the game and the playing box (Manovich 244).

Games and gaming tradition are offering a narrative which is not easily duplicable in other mediums due to the special influence, a change which implies the narratives are perceived as more individual because of the changed interactions between the video games and the person operating it (Turkle 159). Focusing on how this special influence works may aid one in learning more concerning the place of narratives and why they work differently in gaming.

Abandoning narratives

A game introduces factors of gaming which are separate from the old perceptions of narrative, lucid elements essential to the generation of special impact during gaming and indication that narrative premises are not adequate when used in games. Narrative premise divides narrative into two categories namely: discourse and anecdote (Poole 46).

Anecdote represents the authentic occurrence of events in gaming; discourse represents the maneuvering of that narrative in gaming. Discourse in addition represents the aspects of the media in which the narrative occurs. These terms represent the fundamental design of any narrative kind. Narrative overall represents only to what must be reconstructed in a game: the sequential occurrence of episodes as they essentially happened in the period or space of the story.

In games, there are no stories and there are no sequential series of events. Rather there are simple codes waiting activation. However, application of narrative implies gaming is an episode telling medium made for expressing narratives.

A narrativist thus approaches a game as text which can and should be viewed in the similar manner as novels, poems, or video games, because he/she asserts that narrative fits in all the classes. But gaming is not a media to express narratives, and thus only analyzing it as a narrative text is an extremely reductive and tapered approach.

Comparison: Discourse and Story

In navigating space, Lev Manovich asserts that interdependence generates hybrids that have different features for both the user and the technological application. The hybridization is indication to the way in which the individual playing the game and the technological design have decided an ordinary ground that frequently surpasses the redesign and structural objective attached to the hardware and coding system (Manovich 247).

If the human approach is an amalgam, then the users of any game exist as a ‘human gaming’ triggered by what Manovich refers as a ‘fair space’ linking the individual playing the game to the technology. The fair space for human-game represents the lucid operation created by the hybrid.

The human-game interfaces are interdependences between user, sensing device technique implying spatial explorations of a technological universe, and a hybrid which enables explicit operation in the navigable space in question and which represents an individual seated in front of the screen, both tied in a common objective of entertaining by constructing and experiencing alternative views (Manovich 248).

Sherry turkle perceives a database as an old design in itself, contrary to narrative. The databases represent the universe as an assortment of games, and they refuse in ordering this collection. Contrary, narratives create a cause-and-impact trail of apparently not ordered events. Thus, database and narrative are two independent items. Rivaling for the same region of people tradition each claims a selective right for making developments (Turkle 160).

A game therefore begins as a non-ordered selection of products waiting to be activated, yet is viewed during play as comprising an orderly series. The solution to how a game can immediately behave like an assortment and then viewed as an application of episodes is dependent on a differentiation in temporality.

As Manovich asserts, narratives have numerous various temporal classes in an orthodox model. ‘Story duration’ represents the period taken by events, in sequential manner, while ‘discourse duration’ represents the period of the actual narration of an event, in a non-sequential manner (Manovich 251). Turkle in addition describes ‘reading period,’ which represents the authentic period when the texts are conceived (Turkle 163).

Comparing the classical model, Juul says that a game collapses the differences between discourse-period, narrative-period and reading or viewing-period. Narrative premises are not compatible with games due to this crumple of short-lived distinction. Narrative involves two aspects, namely: the discourse and the narration. Narrations are occurrence of episodes while discourse represents the chronological sequence of such episodes in a narration design.

In games however, there are no narrations. There is simply coding system, a set comprising of preconditioned potentialities rather than a collection of events occurring in a preset manner, which can later be rearranged to form a fiction. This possible coding has a short-lived measure to it, suggesting that motion over time and spacing within the play is significant (Juul 29).

Navigating the database triggers possible coding system from storage, providing a short-lived rearrangement of episodes as they appear. Basically, a game is an assortment, a possible coding which change to a narration as the game continues. A game is thus not a strong design. It lacks an explicit underlying design and is dependent on an assortment of possible narratives and definite logics which are very much open.

The distinction between discourse and narrative with respect to story premise cannot be applied in gaming (Poole 48). Because the instruments presented by gaming premise are inadequate in tackling games, this paper provides a substitute of approaching the argument from the amniotic sac perspective.

Evolving Terms

The amniotic sac refers to a hybrid space generated through the relationships between the hardware/coding system of the game and the triumvirate/user. This interaction is physical as much as it is interactive, as the user has to utilize a real hardware platform so as to experience impact on the coding system, and the system requires real hardware so as to be provided with an interactive code. Sequentially, the nature and efficacy of the resulting virtual interactions shape the final hybrid space.

For the purpose of describing this procedure and establishing some key terms, it is essential to evaluate with a view of unpacking some directly linked terminologies.

Interactivity refers to an approach that is seldom described in an explicit manner. Espen Aarseth asserts that the terminology acts textually instead of systematically, through connoting virtual links to user sovereignty, and individualized medium while designating not anything (Aarseth 48). Interactive works are works the viewer can actually alter the discourse in an approaches that are interpretable and produce connotation within the discourses themselves (Turkle 165).

This definition indicates a game is a type of hyper-textual navigation through constructing of personalized texts from an assortment of potentialities within a database. Splitting hyper-textual navigation into major classes presents extractive and immersive relationship models.

The two techniques of interaction need large databases. Extractive interaction is concerned with locating and linking data, while immersive is mainly for exploration. By definition a game is an immersive form because of the aspect of exploration. A key query is raised due to the fact that the context of interaction is not stable due to the various probabilities it represents via recombination: What is the legitimacy of all claims or observations one might draw from the content of any video game?

Old challenges of interpretation increase significantly when interpreting a video game. This problem is one of the most significant crucial repercussions of interactive media: a new media game is a database which does not have unique interpretation until the user is given or ignited through navigation.


In conclusion, two elements of historical establishment in video gaming are applicable to this thesis: first, the technological developments within the representational methods and interactivity which video gaming has made from the 1990s up to date, and second the important reaction to these developments which are predecessors to such argument.

The amniotic sac represents a triumvirate developed by the user, the coding system via which the video game is played, and the related hardware connecting the user to the system, which enables the coding system to be active. How the coding system has been evolving in terms of representational methods and the use of more sophisticated devices is significant for how this evolution now dictates present day video game growth.

Works Cited

Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature, Maryland, Johns: Hopkins University Press, 1997. Print.

Juul, Jesper. “Games telling stories? A brief note on games and narratives.” Game Studies 1.1 (2004): 25-40. Print.

Manovich, Lev. Navigable Space, Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001. Print.

Poole, Steven. Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution, New York: Arcade Publishing, 2000. Print.

Turkle, Sherry. “Constructions and reconstructions of self in virtual reality: Playing in the MUDs.” Mind, Culture, and Activity 1.3 (1994): 158-167. Print.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "The virtual and interactive: Inter-subjectivity in Games." September 28, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-virtual-and-interactive-inter-subjectivity-in-games-essay/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'The virtual and interactive: Inter-subjectivity in Games'. 28 September.

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