Spielberg Has Crossed the Floor

On October 15, 2005 by Christy

Interesting news for those following the Narratology (Story) versus Ludology (Game) debate:

Steven Spielberg will be collaborating with the game makers at EA’s Los Angeles studio (EALA) to create three new original franchise properties. Beginning this year, with offices located on site at EALA, Spielberg will work directly with EA’s development teams to offer his signature style of storytelling to the concept, design, story and artistic visualization of the new games. EA will own the intellectual properties and the game franchises will be developed, published and distributed worldwide by EA. [source]

This sounds very exciting to me, because it is a sure sign cross-media properties are being developed. Cross-media properties combine story design and game play. Although I call this site ‘cross-media storytelling’ I am actually working in both story and game. I see a cross-media story as having strong interactive elements that pull on game design. As a cross-media storyteller and researcher, I recognise that I am utilising what I’ve learnt from traditional narrative, interactive storytelling, installation and games. Cross-media stories are different to normal stories and normal games. They are not foreign to them either. More on the nature of cross-media properties another time. But for now, I wanted to highlight this move of the game & film industry moving together.

Spielberg’s comments on the narratisation of games are interesting. Check out this wonderful quote on when games will be a ‘storytelling artform’:

“I think the real indicator will be when somebody confesses that they cried at level 17,” Spielberg said. [source]

Ludologists are already spitting ‘bah!’ at this interloper. Game designers have been working hard to elevate games to being ‘valid’ or recognised forms of entertainment. They are not half-baked stories, they are full-baked games. You know what I mean. For references on the war that was raging for a while (and still is for some) check out these links. The latter references are to articles that give you more links.

Cameron, A. (1995) ‘D I S S I M U L A T I O N S: illusions of interactivity‘ in Millennium Film Journal: Interactivities, Vol., 28.

Barrett, M. (2000) ‘Irreconcilable Differences: Game vs. Story‘, Gamedev.net

Adams, E. (2004) ‘The Designer’s Notebook: Dramatic Novelty in Games and Stories‘, Gamasutra

Aarseth, E. (2005) ‘Storylines versus gameworlds: Landscaping as narrative device?‘ presented at 5th Symposium on Art and Multimedia: Metanarrative[s]?, CaixaForum, Barcelona, published by mediatecaonline.net

Mateas, M. and A. Stern (2005) ‘Build It to Understand It: Ludology Meets Narratology in Game Design Space‘ presented at Digital Games Research Association

Barwood, H. (2005) ‘Wiring Narrative into Play: a Practical Primer‘ presented at The Game Developers Conference, San Francisco, 7-11 March, published by GDCTV

Juul, J. (2005) ‘N & L: I can’t take it anymore!‘, The Ludologist, 19 June

Costikyan, G. (2005) ‘”No Justice, No Peace”: No Truce in the Narratology/Ludology War‘, *Games * Art * Design * Culture, 20 June