Jon McKenzie's response (excerpt)

Jon McKenzie's response (excerpt)

2004-01-09

An appreciative reply that measures the incline of Henry Jenkins’ middle ground.

As Henry Jenkins suggests, games are indeed not narratives, not films, not plays – but they’re also not-not-narratives, not-not-films, not-not-plays. Games share traits with other forms of cultural production, although reducing them to any one of these comes at a certain cost. Jenkins rightly contends that game designers should therefore seek to expand the forms and processes from which to draw, rather than reduce them. He is also right to point out that some ludologists are themselves much too quick to reduce narrative to overly simplistic models (e.g., strictly linear structures). Most importantly, his exploration of spatially oriented narrative forms provides provocative approaches to contemporary game design. At the same time, however, Jenkins’s stated goal to offer a “middle ground” between ludologists and narratologists remains slanted toward the narratological end of things. This is indicated in his essay’s title, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture.” A more playful ludologist might have offered a response titled “Narrative Architecture as Game Design.” Johan Huizinga, after all, analyzed law, war, poetry, and philosophy “as” play, and across diverse cultural traditions storytelling has complex agonistic dimensions.

Henry Jenkins responds