Sunday, June 19, 2011

Repetition in the Interactive Drama Façade

In Façade repetition guides reader responses by incorporating both semantic and technical elements. In the following example an image of an Italian villa is used to introduce the keyword ‘romance’ into the narrative,

TRIP: Um... uhh, Now, Jim, in one word, what does this picture say to you?

GRACE: Say to you... say to you... yes, good -- (interrupted)

JIM:: sure...Italy

TRIP: N -- No, I just want one word...

GRACE: How about controlling.

JIM: Italian

TRIP: Romance! No it says... romance...!

GRACE: Romance? Ha, in our marriage, that's just a code word for manipulation.


Romance is the searched for keyword in this short exchange that is initially prompted by the image of the villa on the apartment wall, a reference to which is used to open a verbal exchange on the marriage of the programmed characters. Keywords are used as prompts and are repeated, as in this example, or even offered directly, by the characters Grace and Trip to the reader.

A breakdown in the parsing of a keyword can be confusing in the procedural sense, but in reading it can add considerable nuance to the narrative. The keyword “work/ing” fails to be parsed in the syntactic NLG-sense in this example from Façade, but instead creates a space for metaphor, which is indicative of the poor state of the relationship shared by the programmed characters,

TRIP: See Grace, no one is complaining about your decorating, there's nothing wrong with it!

GRACE: Trip, I can't explain it, but this room is just not working, okay? I'm going to return what furniture I can, and redo it all.

JIM: I think it is not working

TRIP: Oh yeah, let me tell you about work. I just brought in a new account - print ads for a line of -- (interrupted)

JIM: Grace

TRIP: um...

GRACE: (big sigh) (Façade)

The keyword is ‘work/ing’, and each of the characters attempts to negotiate a dialogue based around it. The term is used twice as an adjective (working) and then as a verb (work). The design of the text’s programming organizes input from the guest around the parsed keyword ‘work’. While it is not a fully syntactically realized exchange, the confusion can be said to reflect, in the design, the narrative of Grace and Trip’s divergent and conflict ridden marriage. In the above quote, the character Trip comes across as removed from the emotions of his partner, totally missing Grace’s concern for the aesthetics of the room, with a focus on his job (work) and the success he is experiencing there. This distance on the part of Trip is found throughout the Façade narrative, and is often a key element for inviting reader input to the work. His ‘missing the point’ is a negative form of procedurality, where the failure of the program to “capture experience as systems of interrelated actions” (Murray 274), nonetheless provides a metaphor for the failure of the marriage of Grace and Trip.

Repetition results in a patterning that suggests a point of stability in reading. One example of this stability is the repetition through the looping of images. Such repetition is a navigational and functional determinate, which works through an emphasis of particular elements (visual or audile) to mark them in the spatial arrangement of the text as significant or as performing a particular function. The concept of monumentality explains the emphasis placed upon particular points in the work through repetition. By repeating these particular features they are established as anchors in the works.


Anonymous said... doubt you mentioned about adjectives, verbs etc. where would "emotions" fit in and how could you justify that repetition and looping of images will target contexuality.

((Jim)) said...

This section was removed from the chapter on design. I have tried in this chapter to deal with the material configuration of Facade and three other works of digital literature. Repetition on the level of language is so general that I do not think Facade does anything special with it. However its keyword recognition system is something I discuss at length in the chapter as it is now.