March 26, 2005

Shifting realities: Fiction and Fact,
Gaming and Pseudo-AI

I don't think I have had so much fun with a scholarly article before. Whoa--never thought that sentence would come out of me.

But this article is not published yet. Dr. Jerz's "You Are Standing at the Beginning of a Road: Examining Will Crowther's 'Advent'" (c. 1975)" is still in the draft stage.

Missing the top line: [Draft, 22 Mar 2005], I silently commended the publishing journal for eing open-minded enough to accept some question marks in the dates displayed. That is, for example, when Eliza was published. However, when I read "by contract" instead of "by contrast" I thought something was wrong. Don't get me wrong, it is a very good draft. Entertaining, especially when talking about the "wumpus". I had to laugh at the irony of talking about a "wumpus" in a scholarly article:

"I smell a wumpus"

Respectfully, I want to note, the entire article style reminds me of something I would read in the Onion, but that is the nature of the study--a serious analytical look at a fun industry.

In any case, draft or final product, I am finally seeing where all of this is going. The description passages, for instance, really helped me hone in on what we are studying.

Interactive Fiction (IF) games do make a player give up the realities of what is there on the screen, and press one to use one's imagination, a quite different medium than television, movies, or video games. It is true that as an IF player, a need for "multiple [sense appeal]" is needed to "intensify the player's collaboration in creating [a] world." I think that is why I like the newer IF games. The descriptions are lengthy of the world, while still permitting the player to think like a reader, rather than a viewer.

As for the format of the IF games, as Jerz notes, "Will was very proud--or more accurately amused--of how well he could fool people into thinking that there was some very complex AI [Artificial Intelligence] behind the game," says Mike Kraler.

It is easy in the newer games to be fooled into thinking there is something amazing at work behind these lines of coding. And there is--in the coding. I am not a professional coder, and I am in awe of the thought behind each line. In Writing for the Internet, I could not believe that some of the students were actually going to take on an IF game. I have it on good authority that it is a very difficult, but rewarding undertaking.

And now for the connections, I have been reading Galatea 2.2. While I do think that it is a bit egotistical and confusing (authobiographical) for the author and the protagonist of the story to have the same name: Richard Powers, I am getting into the story.

The cover art by Michael Ian Kaye is really intriguing. Once side is a clear image of the subject (Galatea?, not really sure, but probably--I tried finding the original--to no avail) and the other a pixelated version of the same image flipped on the horizontal axis. How appropriate for the storyline. Switching from personal aesthetic reflections on his life to his current anesthetic existence at the Center where he works, Richard attempts to bring both worlds together, but one, I predict will prevail. His robot coming to life bodes well for the anesthetic. This attempt to make his robot function as closely to human English analytical processes as possible makes his real life existence all the more sympathetic in his need to capture real human feeling.

While I do know what happens to a point, I will not spoil the story, as I have before. I would like to see who wins out, though--the portrait or pixels.

The mixture of mediums is great in Galatea: English texts-personal (as in Powers), computer dynamics-impersonal (Lentz), the cover art-computerized pixelation of a classic artwork--the original, like Powers' life, is somewhat damaged. It is all coming together in my head.

See what a little Easter Break can do? :-)

Oh yeah, I have time to watch Blade Runner, too. I'll be watching for Metropolis-inspired settings. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at March 26, 2005 11:40 AM | TrackBack

Yes, that draft still needs some work, but I'm glad you're finding that the basic ideas are helpful as we go into Galatea 2.2. It's very postmodern of Powers to give his protagonist the same name as himself -- that's probably in part a reaction to people who imagine that biographical details always contain the key to unlock the significance of a literary work.

Anyway, I'm already looking forward to the class discussion...

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at March 26, 2005 7:25 PM

I am convinced that Blade Runner needs a better soundtrack.

I also watched American Splendor about Harvey Pekar, the comic creator. He also has a blog: It is the best mix of reality and fiction I have seen in a long while. Mixed mediums too. The film is created like a comic. The movie features television spots, theatrical interpretations of his life, and finally, the movie itself, which depicts both real and fictional interpretations of Pekar's life. It's a real find.

Posted by: Amanda at March 28, 2005 6:35 PM
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