Biennale des Bewegten Bildes was a 4 day conference dealing with contemporary narrative with a concentration on moving images. Tina and Tim from Time's Up went there to see what we could learn, copy, steal, misinterpret and generally find useful. The following is a bit of a mess of notes from the event.
Peter Delius, Canan Hastik, Peter Paul Huth, Stephan Schwan. Mode: Martin Hegel. Museum Angewandte Kunst.
Following notes, with and without attribution, scribbled during the event.
Schwann: Visitor motivation is not information, but experience. Authenticity. Outside everyday life.
New needs (Bedurfnisse). It used to be about extra information, various perspectives. Because of the “digital turn” (are we allowed to say that?) this is no longer necessary.
“Verteidigung des Schaukastens” - In defense of the vitrine.
Delius: Spoke about an exhibition with a physical, antique, clockwork and an animated digital version. This complementariness worked to use the strenths and compensate for the weaknesses of each version of the device. It is about deepening the experience or the insight. The offer needs to be open. In an analysis of a museum guide, there were three groups, clearly segregated by age:
Huth: Film in the dark with full tone. BUT the extra information from an introduction to a film, a story about what happened, why it was made, anecdoted from the filming process, etc, make it more “valuable” (wertvoll). A film is not just a “work” but more.
It is all about the Zusatzinfo. But is it about comprehension, experience or authenticity? Catalysation effects.
The Audio guide in a museum leads to an effect of separation (Vereinzelung). There is no discussion possible. The experience is totally individual but also totally standardised.
Canan Husik: talked about the exhibition about game narratives, the authenticity of original hardware. There is a dialogue in order to pick up the visitor. An “emergent” narrative, The authentic hardware work as an Errinerungsausloser (memory activator) - but this is something that only works for those with a memory!!
Schwann: The moving image is the worst of all possible.
Comics are more comprehensible than moving images.
Delius: The App should not stand in the way.
The experience should not stand in the way.
The experience should not finish when you leave the exhibition.
Schwann: the video held people longer. There was a discussion about the way that an ongoing text or image (video or audio) captures the attention of the visitor, not allowing them to be distracted. While a still image or written text, that can be nonlinearly experienced and under visitor control, allows more distractions and discussion. Time based media distract from the real object.
Note: there was repeated talk about the distinction between E and U, meaning Ernst and Unterhaltung, often used to describe the differences between forms of music.
Schwann: The difference between Einfach (simple) and Platt (simplistic?).
One must respect all possible visitor tastes.
Delius: “Partizipation anregen ist die Königsdisziplin.” Generating participation is the highest 'sphere of sporting competition.' Stepahn Schwans addition / objection here was, that *participation can be segregating* as well. Especially if participation becomes a requirement for contribution and/or basic reception of content. Furthermore he brought up the issue, that participation - especially within edutainmaint - most of the times stays rather flat and is far away from intensifying an expierence.
Museum als Möglichkeitsform (Museum as a possibility)
Talk about the inputs to the visitors having barbs, so that they remain partially stuck in.
Note: in order to avoid being pretentious, but also to be pretentious, one can say: “Spätestens seit X wissen wir, dass Y” (At the latest since X, we know that Y) so that the rest of the panel is not tempted to find earlier and earlier thinkers who said Y, but you still get to drop an important name.
Schwann: Hands on ≠ Minds On based upon an example exhibition in the German Museum in Munich. A series of experiment procedures could be started by pushing a button. But people would leave before they had really started. Interaction, but no further depth.
Accidents and randomness must be allowed in an exhibition.
Huth: Example of an exhibition in a building that was architecturally so strong, that the exhibition did not matter any more,
Hastik: Idea from Ars 2013, a leant camera, that invited the visitor to make their own documented path through the exhibition
Danger of Augmented Reality: once we have created images (or worse, had them created for us), it is hard to emancipate ourselves from them.
*Barriers*: There are multiple levels of barriers to experiencing a work. Language, culture, technology. With the disappearance of barriers, works lose their meaning. BUT barriers may not be created to keep the non-elites outside. What was brought up here was, that the fact of “reducing barriers” (not meaning these barriers which open up content to non-experts) often leads to an decrease of magic. Due to “flat simplification” (flacher Vereinfachung), challenges disappear, the space for surprises gets lost and “der Zauber des Augenblickes” (the enchantment of the moment) can't emerge anymore.
Question: Can an exhibition App ever get close to a Dandyesque performing curator or a discussion with an equally ignorant but interested friend as one moves through an exhibition,
Comment: Authenticity might be important, but there was no significant difference in interest between replicas and actual historical objects, but there was a significant lowering of interest from real objects to mediated objects, a moving or still image.
There was a handdrawn original map from Zork, the text based adventure game. It looked cool and is discussed in a short note here.
This was an emergent map from a player, not delivered with the game.
A game designer, who comes from the world of journalism, to computer game journalism, to being a freelance game writer.
Core message: Story gives a player motivation, context and meaning.
Cinematics removes control, is non interactive. It is the most writerly part of the game writing job.
Interactive Cinematics uses tricks such as being tied up as a “narrative conceit” allowing a fixed narrative to be played out. There are examples with more or less control of the character, the question remains what to do if the player breaks the scene, what are the character reactions.
Environmental Sorytelling: This is the level deign, graffiti, advertising and other atributes that tell a story through the environment. Bioshock uses a lot of this. Has become much more important in the last 5 years.
Dialogue: Guides the player, gives colour and context. Example: the internal monologue, as the player's character talks to herself. Example: A Voice in the Ear is another example, a commander or guide who is continually speaking, but can not necessarily be spoken to directly. This can generate a lot of script. Example: choosing narrative from nonplayer characters - for instance a companion on a long ride, who will tell stories if prompted.
Barks: Short lines, basic information, very gamey and repetitive. Example: in war games, commands like “to the left!”, “forward!”, “Shoot!” and suchlike. The main problem is to keep these interesting.
She then talked about her experience as an external writer for one of the Tomb Raider games. This was partially a guide to how to go about getting such a position. The writer's job is very improvisational. with a mini synopsis and bio to start with (4-5 pages for all!), the writer's job is to strengthen the story arc, to breathe life into the graphics- As various elements of the game are developed, whole bodies of text are discarded or rendered obsolete. The writer fill sin the gaps. The first stage is a screenplay type of treatment, followed by voice casting scripts developed with the Narrative Designer.
The Narrative Designer is the person between the writer and the more technical part of the team, coordinating how writing, images, game play, physics and suchlike all fit together. Also things like spin-off comics. This is a place that unused texts, especially backstory developments, can be used.
There is a LOT of re-writing. And it is a long loop, as rewrites will come hand in hand with new graphics, behaviour, etc, and this will all need to be re-created.
There were questions about techniques for narrative coordination (to keep all the contributors moving in the same direction) as well as the tools used. It seems that skype and other personal contact, mixed with spreadsheets and standard wordprocessing tools, were the answers. Customised tools like FinalDraft were not appropriate. The first question was also looked at with the writer being a form of “Narrative Paramedic” who is brought in (too) late in the game development in order to scrape together the story elements that exist and fill in gams, bind wounds, suggest visuals, in order to keep the narrative alive and well.
There was talk about the “Narrative Toolset” and a link was given to igda.org/writing. This is inactive in http://www.igda.org IGDA! I presume that the SIG Writers was meant: website but have not been able to find any indication of a toolset. Going to teh SIG website and following the “About”→ Tips & Guides link I get:
No results were found for your request.
So there is a bit more to be done!!
She often talked about writers as vital and professional, that “everyone thinks they can write” almost in the same way that people who enjoy food can cook. NO! So there is an emerging understanding in game design that writing is a skill and that the game designer or level designer or programmer is not the person to be creating the writing.
*Sabine Breitsamer - Professor of Sound and Media Culture in the Department of Media at Hochschule Darmstadt* and is a co-founder of the Masters program “Sound Studies” at the Universität der Künste Berlin
Florian Thalhofer / Korsakow-Webpage
An experimental TV-series, produced by ARTE - About Kate - episodes - french or german
Hans Samuelson (Moment Factory), Leigh Sachwitz (flora&faunavisions), Alexis Anastasiou (visualfarm)