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The joys of circular thunking

Posted By tom On August 19, 2008 @ 9:24 pm In New Media, Sentence of the day | No Comments

Sometimes, it’s nice when a point makes itself. At least, I think this one does. I’ll look at it again tomorrow, and make sure my logic doesn’t fall apart…

“As noted above, The Lost Experience (as the Lost ARG came to be called), differs from traditional ‘pure’ form ARGs in that it is tied explicitly into the events of another, primary, narrative. Alongside the Matrix ARG, Metacortechs, and attempts by the producers of Heroes and Battlestar Galactica, though, the entry points into each ARG – nicknamed the game’s ‘rabbit hole’ by players – invoke something of Peter Nicholls’ ‘Conceptual Breakthrough’ in their defamiliarisation of the world taken for granted by the players. Nicholls described the concept in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction as follows:

All the most exciting scientific revolutions have taken the form of breaking down a paradigm and substituting another. Such an altered perception of the world, sometimes in terms of science and sometimes in terms of society, is what SF is most commonly about, and few SF stories do not have at least some aspect of conceptual breakthrough.

Compare this with Dave Szulborski’s description of ARG rabbit holes:

A good rabbit hole needs to appear realistic… if done right, the player doesn’t even know that a game has begun, and that he is already playing it. As it progresses, the game eventually reveals more and more of its ‘reality’.

On the one hand, we have SF identified as a literary form that commonly alters its reader’s perception, revealing a ‘truer’ reality behind the curtain of the world. On the other, a story form in ARGs built upon subverting each reader/players’ perception of reality.

Nicholls suggests a number of examples to illustrate his definition, among them John Fowles’ The Magus. Despite not situated within an SF context, Fowles’ text is structurally a series of narrative breakthroughs, each new truth seen in turn to be an inadequate explanation for the events of the story as the previous one, until the nihilistic and ultimate reality is revealed at the book’s close. To suggest that this format, proposed as a prediction of ARG narrative form, in turn informs The Matrix, among other canonical SF texts, seems self evident.”

I’m writing the SF as ARG essay…


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