Dr. Pawel FrelikMaria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland /University of California, Riverside, 2011-12 Fulbright Senior Fellow
“Transitions and Dissolving Boundaries in the Fantastic”
2012 GFF conferenceSeptember 13-16, 2012
Abandon Narrative All Ye Who Enter Here– Towards the Theory of Science-Fiction Videogames
Videogames have firmly established themselves as stand-alone originals,adaptations from other media, and constitutive elements of storytellingfranchises within science fiction’s version of “convergence culture.” Theirubiquity is not, unfortunately, accompanied by the recognition of the medium’sspecificity. While the struggles between ludologists and narratologists seem tobelong to the past, most science fiction critics writing about games cannot jettison strong narrative sympathies, perhaps indicative of the general skew of the field, in which complex plotting, ideological concerns, and psychologicaldepth have been elevated as premiere virtues at the expense of the much-derided spectacle. This desire to convince themselves and others of the narrativeexcellence of the medium informs the accolades of plotting in such games as
, whose narratives, I daresay, would make most B-classdirectors blush from embarrassment.My presentation is grounded in the belief that this narrative fixation is, at least atpresent, of little interest and of little value in the study of science fictionvideogames. This does not mean, however, that science fiction, both as a genreand an interpretative mode, has no use for videogames – quite the opposite.While recognizing the importance of the modicum of narrative, I would like tooffer alternative ways of looking at science fiction videogames, each of which ismore fruitful than narrative approaches. These include the treatment of sf videogames as a species of aesthetic visuality (which, in the first place, rests onthe recognition of the non-narrative tradition in sf); the theory of the spectacle,which links to the so-called “new cinema of attractions”; and the medium’scapacity for the simulation of alterity, a quality central to the project of sciencefiction at large. Consequently, I would like to argue that the narrative focus in thestudy of science fiction not only
lost in the translation of thegenre from literature, film, and television to videogames.
NOTE: If my paper is accepted, I will need a multimedia projector and a screen (I will be bringingmy own notebook).