Chronotypology: a comparative approach to videogame narrative

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Abstract

This paper outlines the concept of ‘chronotypology’ as a method for rigorously defining narrative in performative media such as videogames. The approach extends Agamben’s revisiting of Lévi-Strauss’ analysis of the experience of the sacred as a ‘synchronic’ experience: drawing temporal frames together (ie. An ritual in which an initiate is vested with the spirit of an ancestor). In his critique, Agamben develops the converse temporal schema: diachrony.

The paradigmatic example is play.

Play is liable to preserve a set of formal rules (‘a topsy-turvy image of the sacred’). However, because it does not present a story or myth that connects with a meaningful history or tradition, it inscribes difference within repetition, resulting in a strong diachronic experience.For Agamben this is the import of ‘Playland’ in Collodi’s Pinocchio, where there is only the bedlam of an eternal holiday: play involves the ‘paralysis and destruction of the calendar’ (68). Where the sacred turns events into structure, play turns structures into events.

It just so happens that computers make these transactions very labile.

Chronotypology draws on the concepts of diachrony and synchrony to provide a comparative method for analysing the complex temporalities of performative texts, with a focus on digital games. Diachrony arises when game performances are distinguished, becoming more distal. Synchrony arises when they concentre, becoming proximal. In this light, narrative in games can be defined efficiently as a structure which synchronizes all performances of a given game. Engaging with both nonlinear literary texts (Perec, Oulipo) and videogames (Life is Strange), this paper will demonstrate the use of chronotypology in facilitating the application of literary theories and methodologies to performative texts such as videogames.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2018
EventLiterature and video games: beyond stereotypes
- University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Duration: 20 Jun 201821 Jun 2018

Conference

ConferenceLiterature and video games: beyond stereotypes
CountryUnited Kingdom
CitySt Andrews
Period20/06/1821/06/18

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Jayemanne, D. (2018). Chronotypology: a comparative approach to videogame narrative. Paper presented at Literature and video games: beyond stereotypes
, St Andrews, United Kingdom.