Avatars Sharing Agency: Metaphor in Interactive Narrative Environments

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

This paper considers how the avatar focuses the metaphor of interactivity in video games and interactive narrative environments. It argues that, despite serving as the on-screen representation of user input, the avatar has some independent agency (whether through design or representational practice) that influences its behavior. Thus, rather than merely relying upon it as her transparent stand-in, the player must negotiate with the avatar to achieve her goals. The negotiation serves to dramatize interactivity as an imperfect conduit between the textual and extra-textual worlds. While not so evident in video games, this imperfection sustains the metaphor of interactivity, deepening expressivity in interactive narrative environments.

(Source: Author's abstract, 2008 ELO Conference site)

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Scott Rettberg