On the night from September 14 to September 15, I wrote down the following:
“The video game is a narrative which requires additional levels of communication in order to allow the three basic narrative levels -functions, actants and narration- to engage into the necessary complementary relationship. Only after this complementary relation has been made possible, the process of signification can continue towards its ultimate level: that of the narrative itself.
One of these additional levels of communication takes place between the expositum (the “so-far” exposed) and the impostor (the one to respond to the logical system (situation, argument) that the game state equals to at a given moment). The “language” that enables the communication between the both defines a grammatical process that requires the matching of player actions (via the use of a set of tokens embedded into game controls) with world objects that are made present and accessible through a system of classification graphically woven into the texture of and presented as a user interface. Each combined system of controllers and interfaces equals to an unique language system with its own tokens, ways of coding/articulation, and the possibilities, limitations and sensibilies that it creates for the various “utterances” that it enables through its configuration. These systems do not simply reflect the world that has been designed; they actively construct the world with all its subjects, objects, verbs and adjectives.
The interface is basically the graphical embodiment of a group of binary oppositions woven into the texture of a surface through the establishment of figure-background dichotomies. It can be seen as an arrangement of “contours” that “exist” against a often “dead” background. Neither of them can be present alone; they require each other. However the “background” is silenced into a state of functional death as soon as the countour has created the functiomal figure/foreground. The figures which can be called/mobilized through the use of the controllers, divide the virtual world into two basic groups of objects which make up the highest rank of all binary oppositions in the world of the game narrative: Existents and interactibles. The interface is calling these object classes into life by “naming” (objectifiying) them and is therefore turning them into “beings” that can be subject to the “verbs” (actions) of the “speaker” (the user) of the language (the figure-control key arrangements). Therefore, like in any other language, the interface (and the lexic body that it proposes) does not simply reflect the virtual world; but, like natural language, it does construct it. Using game controls to connect interface objects (or Names) with actions (verbs) assigned to certain keys, can be seen then as parole (an utterance) guided by langage (the sign system of controls and interface). This is a system with its very own grammar, since we have to “spell” our actions “correctly”, if we want to “mean” what we say. The possible “words” that can be said through this system of signs make up an Actionary, rather than a dictionary. Indeed, narrative are often said to be constructs made out of predicates.
It took so long. But it’s finally there. Now I have something to continue with.