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First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game [Hardcover]

Noah Wardrip-fruin , Pat Harrigan

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6 April 2004
Electronic games have established a huge international market, significantly outselling non-digital games; people spend more money on The Sims than on 'Monopoly' or even on 'Magic: the Gathering'.

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""First Person" makes an invaluable contribution to the current discussion surrounding new media narratives, computer games, and the performative ties that bind them. The anthology brings together major players in the field who discuss their ideas in the appropriately open-ended format of statements and responses, all of which shed light on the aesthetic and social implications of our new experiences of stories."--Christiane Paul, Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts, Whitney Museum of American Art

About the Author

Noah Wardrip-Fruin is Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is the coeditor of four collections published by the MIT Press: with Nick Montfort, The New Media Reader (2003); with Pat Harrigan, First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game (2004), Second Person: Role-Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media (2007), and Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives (2009). Pat Harrigan is a freelance writer and author of the novel Lost Clusters. He is also the co-editor, with Noah Wardrip-Fruin, of First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game (2004) and Third Person: Authoring and Exploring Vast Narratives (2007), both published by the MIT Press. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A web project in book form 12 Mar 2010
By Michael J. Tresca - Published on Amazon.com
I'm always wary of collections of essays, if only because the quality of writing can be so uneven. First Person takes the many dissonant voices of its collected authors and goes one step further, allowing them to disagree with each other in a running commentary along the bottom of each page.

First Person starts out very promising, beginning with Janet Murray on cyberdrama and Espen Aarseth's ergodic literature. The lovefest is interrupted by Markku Eskelinen who, contrasting the earlier authors, seems particularly cranky about the whole field. Eskelinen then becomes the nemesis for much of the rest of the book as different authors obliquely and directly take him on. If there's one consistent theme throughout First Person, it's that there's a lot of passive-aggressive hostility between scholars.

Unfortunately, First Person suffers from several problems. Some of the academics use jargon that only other game scholars would understand. On display in First Person is a battle of survival for the various authors, who are attempting to invent new words to describe what may or may not be a new medium. As a result, each essay disagrees with the next on how to describe key concepts. This makes reading First Person a challenge. Some authors seem dead-set on not being comprehensible except by other experts in their field, which makes their inclusion painful to read.

The responses, which could provide a really interesting point and counterpoint, are often snide brush-offs that amount to, "that's not what I said," or "we agree." That's nice, but it doesn't make for compelling reading and certainly doesn't justify the space these counterpoints take up in the book. I found the division between lower and upper portions of the book difficult to follow.

The essays vary in their relevance and scholarship. Sack's discussion of large-scale conversations is prescient of social networks; Vesna and Juul's discussion of game time are revelatory in how we approach any form of fun; Montfort's discussion of interactive fiction neatly sums up the entire gaming medium. Other essays read like published dissertations. And some essays, like Walker's review of Online Caroline, are entertaining but contribute little to game theory.

In short, First Person is promising but wildly uneven. It feels like a web project that should have stayed online.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Worthy sampler of an evolving area 15 Jun 2004
By M. Crumpton - Published on Amazon.com
A great overview of the intersections of games, linear stories, and interactive artworks. This book almost inevitably leaves you with a richer perspective, because the range of articles (the uses of voice synthesizers to the Sims) makes it unlikely that you are familiar with all the terrain. The commentary discussions parallel to the main text give a feeling like chatting with your smart friends about some brilliant lecture you just saw. Thought provoking and fun.
15 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Drama and New Media Forms 24 Oct 2004
By Kim Flintoff - Published on Amazon.com
What has particularly excited me is the opening chapter on "Cyberdrama"... it discusses approaches to story, game play and engagement in terms that echo what we are trying to achieve in Drama education. Throughout the book (and this is from preliminary browsing) there are discussions about narrative and simulation and disticntions being drawn bewteen perceptual positions of players ... the writers that have contributed to this book have a very clear sense of the notion of "role" and I am starting to think that this book may well serve as the basis for investigation into the role of technology in Drama ( and possibly other) education for the next few years. Other promising looking chapters include such discussions as "Moving Through Me as I move: A Paradigm for Interaction", "Unusual Positions: Embodied Interactions in Symbolic Spaces", "Narrative, Interactivity, Play and Games: Four Naughty Concepts in Need of Discipline", " Videogames of the Oppressed: Critical Thinking, Education, Tolerance and other Trivial Issues", "A Preliminary Poetics for Interactive Drama and Games"

The authors contributing to this book are well known to anyone who's started looking into Drama and technology - Janet Murray , Espen Aarseth and Brenda Laurel are all there, alongside more familiar "drama' voices such as Richard Schechner...

As a high school drama teacher, I have a keen interest in new media applications in Drama education - it seems that many of our number are still focussed totally on their Drama classrooms and while they have an interest in technology are not actually making much headway with developing knowledge in the area - this retards developing discussions when there isn't a common language and some basic concepts upon which to build our discussions and investigations...

I think this book "First Person" is probably as good a starting point as is available at the moment. It provides a broad overview of the scope of "new media" interactions and there is definitely what I would call a "drama sensibility" contained within it.

The other book I've just started looking into is Marie-Laure Ryan's "Narrative as Virtual Reality"

Narrative As Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media

What looks promising here is Chapter Nine: "Participatory Interactivity from Life Situations to Drama". I've yet to properly digest the chapter - I've been intrigued by some of the statements I've encountered, for instance "For interactivity to be reconciled with immersion, it must be stripped of any self-reflexive dimension"... I'm not sure that is exactly what we are trying to do with Drama (or any form of) education - we are generally trying to become aware of the symbolic forms we are engaging with... although in a Stanislavskian sense, it might just be that this ne dimension of building belief is somehow well placed in Drama... I tend to think the Brechtian requirement for distance might be better suited... but that can be a discussion for another day... for the time being we need to start to come to grips with some key concepts in the new paradigm we have the opportunity to define...

Once again... as Drama people we know the need for social constructivist approaches... I'm hoping we can live that rather than just posit it....

We are trying to establish a special interest group called DramaPlayShop.org... you're welcome to drop in!
4.0 out of 5 stars Took a while to ship. 24 Feb 2014
By Wesley A Newman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for an upcoming assignment for a lit class and it didn't arrive until after the due date of the assignment.
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 3 Feb 2013
By Ruth García Martín - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Todo a sido perfecto. Ha llegado antes de lo previsto y en perfectas condiciones. No tengo ninguna queja, muy al contrario.
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