1/16/2014

Tech and Navigable Spaces

Janet H. Murray in Hamlet on the Holodeck writes about the navigable spaces created by technology (particularly the text game Zork as an example) and in doing so, writes about us.

[Zork] itself has an objective reality that is much more concrete than, for instance, the jail on the Monopoly board or a dungeon in a tabletop game of Dungeons and Dragons—or even a dungeon in a live-action role playing-game—because the words on the screen are as transparent as a book. That is, the player is not looking at a game board and game pieces or at a Dungeons and Dragons game master who is also in his or her algebra class or at a college classroom or campsite in the real world. The computer screen is displaying a story that is also a place. The slamming of a dungeon door behind you (whether the dungeon is described by words or images) is a moment of experiential drama that is only possible in a digital environment.
Murray speaks of the power of effectively-used technology as an invisible medium. A computing system is the ultimate impartial GM. That both excites and scares me at the same time. What does it mean for us? How do we get in on that experiential drama? Do we even want in?

And this is all from a game in the 70's.
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