One Idea about Narrative

There was an interesting editorial by Norman Mailer in the newspaper last week: PARADE Magazine | One Idea (Norman Mailer)–January 23, 2005. While he spends a little too much time praising the current educational reform effort, his “one idea” is the need to eliminate commercial interruptions on television, because they interrupt the narrative of the programs, and attention to narrative is an important part of reading literacy.
“In the early years of television, it was even hoped that the attention children gave to TV would improve their interest in reading. Indeed, it might have if TV, left to itself, consisted of uninterrupted narratives. That, of course, was soon not the case. There were constant interruptions to programs

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4 Responses to “One Idea about Narrative”
  1. andrew says:

    Hmm, this jibes pretty well with the argument against cutscenes in games (an obvious argument I think, but worth saying nonetheless).

  2. Brandon says:

    It does and it doesn’t. Part of the cutscenes debate is the opposition of active/passive, and then considerations of the role of narrative and the role of interaction. If games were to provide narrative on par with a scripted drama then I think it would be easy to show the value of uninterrupted game narrative. But I don’t see games doing much in the way of character development, or themes, or tropes, the things which would connect an appreciation of narrative to reading literacy.

  3. andrew says:

    Actually I was thinking more of the idea of cutscenes in games might interrupt / disrupt the acquistion of procedural literacy. Cutscenes certainly corrupt the overall interactive experience, IMO, and could taint a player’s understanding of what a “good” interactive experience could / should be.

  4. Brandon says:

    If procedural literacy is a skill, then I would be hesitant to say something is good for or bad for acquisition of that skill. Most likely it simply requires a more advanced literacy to be able to appreciate the role of cutscenes in a game. Literacy is not a tool for criticism, it is a tool for understanding and appreciating the operations of a process.
    As far as the cutscenes in GTA: San Andreas go, I don’t have an opinion, if they merely establish mood and setting (which may be cause for complaint), or do they provide exposition and clues related to the player’s task? Either way, the ability to sit through and decipher a cutscene is what procedural literacy enables you to do.