Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling

EPUB EBook by Chris Crawford

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Crawford is a well- EPUBknown idealist in the gaming industry, and nowhere does it show more than in this book. Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling EPUB EBook The whole purpose behind this book is Crawford criticizing games in favour of interactive storytelling, and then "selling" his way of crafting interactive storyworlds - all the while stating how difficult it is, but also how much more "artful" than video games.

His analysis of the industry circa 2004 goes to show that he has been a recluse since 1992, and has looked down on games since, or maybe even before that. While he puts out some good arguments for trying to create interactive storytelling applications, and some of the observations about video games are correct, it is clear that his focus on turning his eyes away from the video game industry has made him blind to some real advancements in the fields he cares about the most (like character interactions and emergent storytelling). What I found the most frustrating about this entire book, however, is that it isn't obvious what the use of interactive storytelling would exactly be, other than an experiment to show you can do it.

What Crawford suggests throughout the book is to create a system akin to creating a narrative AI, and the strangest thing about it is that he goes the whole way from stating that the biggest problem with games is lack of choice and that interactive storytelling is all about choice and effect... all the way to encouraging designers to create roadblocks and pointing players in the "right" direction. So what is this supposed to be, in the end? A similation? A game with narrative focus? A game with its conflict going away from mechanics (which, by the way, is a silly way of putting it when the book spends 50% of its length explaining the MECHANICS of such conflicts)?

Not only that, Crawford also states, many times, that he himself hasn't yet created a fully satisfying system - and the guy has been at it for more than 20 years! From what he wrote about the specifics of the system, it seems it is quite basic, despite all the hard work he had to accomplish to bring it to life. I kept wondering if toiling over such a system was worth the time and effort, and after reading this book, I'm pretty sure it serves no purpose other than showing people it can be done... and then nobody would have any reason to experience these "storyworlds" and even less reason to be astonished.

This is the point when Crawford would criticize me and fall back on his ultimate defense - I just don't get it, and I haven't understood or realised the potential and importance of the genre. The thing is, I'm pretty sure Crawford is in a vast minority of people who had done that, and 8 years after this book was completed, I still fail to see how interactive storytelling would be "the next big thing"... and I'm pretty sure Crawford is lamenting the fact and asking himself "Why are people so thick and can't see the genius in this method?". Of course, he has his answer - the video gaming industry is to blame. Action games are to blame. And, since interactive storytelling is supposed to be "art" (though how exactly is it anything more than a simulation system build on tons and tons of code, I fail to understand), surely it is in the right, yes?

I'm sorry to say, but the only person who this book will be useful to in its entirety is Crawford himself, who can look at it, sitting on his bookshelve and pat himself on the back for all the great, revolutionary ideas he has, which will someday be relevant, damn it! Everyone else can find some basic assumptions about the gaming and interactive industries which will provoke some thought and maybe discussion, but besides that, this is 350 pages of self-congratulating, self-appreciating theory which has yet to bear any real weight apart from being an experiment. Interesting experiment, to be sure, but probably not something that will have a big, if any, effect on how we create interactive experiences. Like this book? Read online this: A Career Handbook for TV, Radio, Film, Video and Interactive Media, Right Where I Need To Be (Crawford Boys #1).

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