9780735711716 / 0735711712

Pause & Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative


Publisher:New Riders Press



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About the book:

This is an extremely literate and somewhat scholarly look at the past, present, and future of the emerging art form of interactive narrative, where storytelling, visual imagery, and reader interaction meet. With an abundance of illustrations, including a comic strip that runs timeline-style along the bottom of each page, and a corner flipbook, Pause & Effect looks at what defines visual narrative, how it has developed through the centuries (from the religious paintings of 13th-century artist Giotto to the first-person shooter games of today), and the principles involved.

The book has four parts. In the first, "Theory," readers learn about perspective (both emotional/inside-the-skull and dimensional/outside-the-skull), Aristotle's definition of dramatic structure, the Freytag triangle (complication, climax, denouement), the three interactive narrative structures (nodal, modulated, and open), and other fundamental issues. The second part covers the 2-D topics of image and icon, including several examples of narrative imagery from the history of art (e.g., Velázquez's Las Meninas and Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase No. 2) and basic principles for designing a narrative that facilitates the four steps of interaction (observation, exploration, modification, and reciprocal change). The third section looks at the 3-D areas of place and space (how architecture and dimensional imagery affect narrative), as well as case studies from theater, game design (Deus Ex 2), the Internet (the graphical MUD Ultima Online), and more. The last section discusses the practical issues involved in developing interactive narratives and emerging trends.

Pause & Effect is for anyone interested in a serious analysis that touches on new media, storytelling, visual art, and literature. It would also make an excellent textbook for a variety of college courses, from game design to semiotics. --Angelynn Grant

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