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Speaker Series for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds

2010-11 Speaker Series

Who's Telling This Story, Anyway?
A Formal Approach to Problems in Interactive Narrative

Thursday, December 2
4:00-6:00 p.m.
6011 Donald Bren Hall

Sponsored by the Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds and the
Office of the Campus Writing Coordinator

Speaker: Austin Grossman

Bio: Austin Grossman has written and designed for a number of
critically acclaimed video games, including Ultima Underworld II,
System Shock, Trespasser, and Deus Ex. His first novel, Soon I Will Be
Invincible, was nominated for the John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize.
His writing has appeared in Granta, the Wall Street Journal, and the
New York Times.

Abstract: The idea of interactive story is a staple of new media
rhetoric--virtual environments where players can experience a
narrative in which they themselves have a kind of agency. But what are
we really talking about, in the nuts and bolts of implementation? And
is such a thing genuinely posible, or only a series of compromises? In
this talk, we'll discuss a number of familiar narrative simulations,
from Space Invaders to Grand Theft Auto, and how they finesse the
various paradoxes inherent in the utopian ideal of "interactive
narrative." By looking at where they fail and succeed, we
can--maybe--begin to talk meaningfully about the aesthetics of
interactive media.