Of Bangor and the CEDAR mash

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Back at CEDAR. This time in beautiful Bangor. I've arrived a day early because it takes aeons to get here from Nottingham (four changes on the train and an easy four and a half hours journey). I'm sitting in a hotel room and writing this while trying to focus on my presentation tomorrow and to forget about my day job. Research time is a luxury nowadays and I'm thoroughly grateful that I've been allowed this time by NTU.

So back to de-stressing and chillaxing. Also back to videogame theory - rusty as I am. The programme, however, encompasses the full breadth of web 2.0 and recent social media technology. Here's what it looks like:

Registration and coffee
Participant presentations (10-15 minutes for presentation; 5-10
minutes for questions):

Sonia Fizek
Second Life as an Academic Platform: Experiencing Virtual Conferences.

Souvik Mukherjee
Writing the Disappearing Story: Wikis, Walkthroughs and the Digital Narrative.

Simon Isserlis
The MariTime Text Corpus (MariTeC): The construction of a specialised digital
text corpus of Maritime English.

Short coffee break

Guest lecture (Claire Warwick)

Lunch buffet

Participant presentations:

Anastasija Ropa
Bridging the Gap Between Medieval and Post-Modern Audiences of the Grail
Quest Literature with the Aid of Google Sites.

Isamar Carillo
Three Stages of a Research Project: Advantages of Using The Brain, Mindomo
and Prezi.

Maggie Parke

Lyle Skains (video presentation)
Exploring Multimodal Creativity: Writing Stories for the Printed Page and the
Digital Screen.

'Jam session' / hands-on activities (exchanging and test-running
software/online tools for humanities research)

Discussions over afternoon coffee

All of these topics are extremely interesting for me. Google sites and the Grail (Did Sir Galahad google?) and using Prezi and the Brain - fantastic.  Even relates to my present job. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. As for my presentation, here's the abstract:

Writing the Disappearing Story: Wikis, Walkthroughs and the Digital Narrative

Do videogames tell stories?’ Although it might be possible now, after almost ten years of academic debate, to answer the question with a resounding ‘yes’, a seemingly innocuous query is bound to bring back the doubts: ‘so where’s the story?’. Digital narratives, especially some videogames, disrupt traditional expectations of the narrative. Operating in complex temporal planes, these digital stories do not lend themselves to standard endings or structures and their plurality makes it next to impossible for researchers to analyse the ephemeral narrative(s). Where older narratology (in the sense applied to the work of Gerard Genette and others) struggles to fathom such phenomena, philosophies of the multiple and the affective such as that of Gilles Deleuze engage quite well with the plurality of digital narratives viewing them as actualisations within a mesh of potentialities.

What might be otherwise construed as abstract philosophy can, however, be experienced in more accessible ways: player themselves have developed ways of recording and analysing the otherwise ephemeral narrative actualisations. The ‘walkthrough’, albeit mostly neglected by game research, has nevertheless established a niche for itself as a form of ludic ‘paratext’ that captures individual actualisations of the game narrative. However, walkthroughs can hardly exist as individual accounts: as they are created mainly as guides to resolving in-game difficulties, the need for player-collaboration and multiple responses is quite plain.

Players have therefore tapped into Web 2.0 and the transition from walkthroughs to rapidly growing and rhizomatic wikis has now begun. Player observations are now being recorded down to the minutiae of character description, narrative, quests, maps and individual experiences. These are constantly updated by the player community but at the same time they give us a narrative to analyse culled from various recorded actualisations. This paper will study the beginnings of this new type of response to videogames using the examples of ‘The Vault’ (the wiki on Fallout 3) and the ‘Call of Duty Wiki’.

In relation to this, it will also analyse a specific genre of game-related blogs which has been named ‘after-action report’ by fans. In these blogs, gamers keep a diary of their in-game experiences often making them resemble literary or historical accounts. ‘The Rise and Fall of the House of Jimius’, an after-action report blog created as a record of the gameplay of Rome:Total War by a player who calls himself Jim. Again the blog format allows more player responses that supplement the narrative created from Jim’s individual actualisations of the gameplay events.

These new types of digital responses to videogames indicate that the idea that videogames cannot tell stories is a myth. This paper will examine how they tell stories differently and how Web 2.0 technologies influence the way in which the stories are read/played.
And here's my presentation.

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