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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.3/196226
- Being history: contingent histories, player choice, and World of Warcraft
- Surman, David
- In this paper I illustrate the ways in which play has a direct consequence on narrative trajectory in World of Warcraft. Importantly, my discussion relates first and foremost to the creation of entirely fictional histories, using formal devices or ‘cues’ which are remediated from the metadiscursive strategies of ‘actual’ historiography. In order to contribute to our critical understanding of the ways in which computer and videogames evoke such complex responses from their varied audiences, discussions of history and representation are absolutely necessary. Since play is at the core of the games experience, discussions of history and representation (and represented histories) are coloured by this fundamental principle. Here, the catalytic emphasis is on the player as an agent of history, who through choice shapes the trajectory of the narrative. This fundamental equation is central to our understanding of the temporal aspects of gameplay. In a gaming cosmology, the player is truly at the centre of the universe. While the range of choice and potential developments are predetermined, the performative aspects of play build upon that deterministic foundation to create an involvement predicated on historicity: the condition of being ‘in’ history. Through an analysis of World of Warcraft I would like to illustrate the recurrent ways in which games formally construct both a denotative and connotative representation of history. These differing modalities combine with historical aspects of play itself, for instance repetition (repeated play) and luck, to create a singular experience comparable to an (albeit reduced) sense of historical involvement. In a final move, I shall construct a working typology of formal devices used in this way that are common to the MMORPG videogame mode.
- Publication type
- Conference paper
- Paper presented at the Aesthetics of Play Conference, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway, 13 -14 October 2005
- Publication year
- University of Bergen
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2005.