FMS85C Week 5: Video Games create the Global Narrative

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As digital media has constantly been expanding and growing right before our eyes, it can be easy to note how advanced the quality and technology of these digital products have been. Movies have been adapting the 3-dimensional aspect more often, as the experience of high-definition blu-ray movies have been able to be taken home from the luxury of a living room. On the same token, video game graphics and technology have grown tremendously, as one can easily note from comparing the graphics from the first Nintendo 64 in the 90s to the PlayStation 3 of today—everything is starting to seem much more realistic (as if the characters were taken from a real-life photograph) and much more complex (as game running times are continuing endlessly, as the narratives presented provide much more cinematic details).

“We are now encountering a shift in the nature of narrative as radical as the one that gave rise to the novel.” The excitement of our new digital media age is one that pleases us immediately in a short span of time. The ability to watch moving pictures and see things unfold right before our eyes seems much more enticing than turning the pages of a novel to black text and white sheets, having to concur up images in our own minds. Our digital age of today has transformed that, which is why it is easy to agree that “in an amazingly short time, narratives in digital form (in particular those in video games) have swept through the globe.” As it is argued in Digital Storytelling, Mediatized Stories: Self-representations in New Media, “[Digital narratives] are a cultural phenomenon of undoubted importance, but their status as stories is more problematic. These digital narratives seem, when viewed through the lens of our ‘traditional’ notion of story incomplete, crude, formless – hardly stories at all. I would argue that these digital productions are not so much ‘bad’ stories as new kinds of stories suited to new kinds of times” (Kurt Lundby, 2008, 182).

The popularity of video games and its ever-growing fan-base is almost a narrative response to our newly global world that has become more connected, in a sense (at least for us Westerners who have become more exposed to lifestyles of the world). As “new kinds of stories suited to new kinds of times,” these stories let us lose ourselves in pseudo-lives that perform and do the things we ourselves cannot physically do. Much the same as movies do—which let us get lost in the world of the movie—video games are interactive stories that not only let us navigate through the consequences of actions, but also walk us though a narrative that represents a general culture of our time. As video games such as Grand Theft Auto (now expecting its 5th edition) have taken over the video-game world, it also provides a cultural narrative on gang life, lifestyles of the rich and famous, and drug wars. Although maybe not immediately relevant, these games provide creative expanses into other worlds and lifestyles—so common to real life—that the stories presented expand our general knowledge of our world. Is that not what today’s digital media age aims to bring—a generalized, global understanding of our place, position, and experiences as a person in the world today?

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