Oren Sreebny’s Weblog has a summary of Will’s speech at When 2.0. As usual, it’s full of smart insights, though I am unsure I agree with his definition of story:
A story is a way of how to displace someone’s experience in time and space to apply it to another person. While you’re seeing one linear path of events, the drama is created by imagining all the other things that didn’t happen (“what would’ve happened if he had tripped here?”).
Another comment that resonates with the recent discussions here on story is this one:
Games are doing the same thing – looking for simple compact rules that can create large spaces of possibilities.
With the “interactive entertainment movie” sort of game, the large spaces of possibilities actually tend to be fairly small. As the “string of pearls” approach to narrative games puts it in its very metaphor, you have to bound the possibility space in order to string it up! Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very ungainly necklace.
Another sign (as if there weren’t enough already) that Will falls very very strongly on the “toys and models” side of game design, as opposed to the “interactive entertainment” side.
I agree strongly with Will’s recommendation of The User Illusion. It’s one of the best books on cognition and how we think.
Via Kim Pallister.