Murray, Janet. “From Game-Story to Cyberdrama.” Electronic Book Review. n.p., 05 May 2004. Web. 06 June 2012. <http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/firstperson/autodramatic>

Critical Article Presentation

José Otero

Overview

Murray begins her article by discussing the growth of “story-rich new gaming formats” and provides a brief comparison of stories and digital games. Both stories and games often emphasize structures based on “contests” or “puzzles,” and both are “distanced from the real world.” The digital environment also allows (or encourages) games to incorporate elements that would be more typically identified with storytelling and vice versa. Games like The Sims have players creating their own suburban dramas while replay stories like Reliving Last Night give viewers the opportunity to change key elements which ultimately change the outcome of the story. While defining this new mixed genre is important to her, Murray prefers to focus on exploration and believes this genre will allow “writers” to tell new stories and to tell old stories in new ways. She concludes by offering one possible criterion for evaluating what she labels “cyberdrama”: the concept of dramatic agency.

Commentary

The emergence of this genre is in some ways similar to the emergence of reality TV. Viewers of reality television often believe that what they are watching is true to life and accurately depicts the people and the social, ethnic, or gender groups they may be a part of. When interacting with a piece of cyberdrama, the viewer/player may take actions and receive consequences that may have no basis in reality. I don’t have any idea what Sarah Cooper’s character put or had put in her drink, but I am curious as to how it changed who she found in her bed the next morning. Are we to believe that what a woman wears, drinks, or listens to has a direct effect on whom she sleeps with? Does the newness of this genre lead to creations that fall into stereotyping?

For Discussion

Murray states at the end of the article that “it is the fittingness of the result to the action taken that makes it satisfying.” Is Murray suggesting that the creators of cyberdrama can create a just world? Is that possible? And who is creating these worlds and deciding what is just?