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10:47 PM on 09.15.2013 // Marohen
Reassessing the Artist/Audience Relation in an Interactive Context

In my prior blog post, I explored the fundamental definition of gaming. From this fairly elementary assessment I came to the conclusion that the gaming's artistic purpose was the recreation of an interaction in the form of a static construct. For this blog post I will attempt to spread beyond that basic point and see what it gets me.

To caveat, I will be assessing gaming's designs in the context of narrative and not pure gameplay, as I'm not quite ready to tackle that particular topic just yet.

Back to the Basics

Narrative is often broken down into the metaphor of the Storyteller sitting by the campfire, retelling a story to a Listener with them. However, if we look at this metaphor again in the context of the medium of interaction, there are some elements frequently overlooked; namely, the Listener's involvement in the story.

Interacting with the Listener, they might interact back. They might interrupt or ask questions or attempt to alter the Storyteller's story, they might even simply get up at leave in the middle of it. All of these things alter the story being told, and both individuals experience from that story.

The theory of Three Parties

From this insight I formulated that, in an interaction, there are three parties involved: The first party (The Storyteller/Artist), the second party (The Active Audience), and the third party (The Passive Audience).

The first party and the second party have already been explained. To articulate further, the Artist is in a creatively dominant position, while the Active Audience is in a creatively submissive/reactionary position. These positions can be fluid, and in a single narrative both can switch positions any number of times. While the first and second party may interact with the third (By breaking the fourth wall), the Passive Audience cannot interact with the other two (else they become the second party) and can only observe the results of their interaction.

This applies to All Mediums

All artistic mediums are subject to this assessment of three parties. However, in all cases, the direct link between the first and second party's interaction is obfuscated to the point that we might only assume the first and third exist, when this is not the case.

You might have collaborators, or editors, who respond to your creation and make adjustments. In cinema you have actors, editors, sound designers, music composers, writers, producers, directors, and so on, all interacting with each other to create their art.

Even in the case of a completely solo work, the artist acts as a surrogate second party when they relay their work back to them for scrutiny.

As it Applies to Gaming

Since the argued purpose of gaming is the recreation of an interaction, a game attempts to put the player in the second party, rather than putting them in the third. From this understanding, the idealized design in gaming is an environment where the player might suspend their disbelief as to the static nature of a game in favour of believing that their actions have a free and organic impact on the world.

Because a game still has to be made, we can assume that there are two layers at play when discussing interaction in the context of a game: The game level and the meta-game level. Generally, it is considered ideal to obtain player feedback as early as possible in a game's development, as this can translate into a more robust selection of player choice at the game level, further reinforcing the belief of games as a means of recreating an interaction.

That's all I have to say for now. I plan to expound further regarding this topic, but I'll spare you of an overlong mess for the time being and I'll leave you with what I have said thus far.

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