Talks

Tale of the Snake--the Metanarrative of Konami and Hideo Kojima

Date: April 3rd, 2016

PANELISTS: Douglas Schules (Rikkyo University), Michael Craig (UC Berkeley), Christopher Michael Yap (NAIST). Moderated by Martin Roth (Leipzig University)

The overall design of the games in the Metal Gear franchise, which is characterized by frequent, intentional 4th-wall-breaks, invites players to become overly involved in altering the narrative of the game itself. When series creator Hideo Kojima inserts himself into the game as a character, players have the unauthorized ability to freely modify and utilize Kojima as a story element. When player-modders hack the game assets in order to alter the game story, this constitutes a new dimension of interactive authorship which can potentially become increasingly more complex when considering that such game narratives can even be modified remotely by the publishers themselves via downloadable content patches (DLC).

Date: May 22nd, 2015

PANELISTS: Florent Gorges (Omake Books), Michael Craig (UC Berkeley), Christopher Michael Yap (NAIST). Moderated by Prof. Hiroshi Yoshida (Ritsumeikan Univ.)

発表のタイトル:ニンテンドーと新たなデジタル神話 / Nintendo and the New Digital Mythology

発表の要旨:Throughout history, there have been stories and myths which have received universal acceptance and appraise--those stories which capture the imagination of all, and inspire entire generations. Creators of all mediums have always strived to create such works which can connect with all people through the ages. These mythologies all have a common factor: they speak to all humans on a universal level. Although we didn’t know it at the time, Nintendo accomplished this feat for the first time in 1986 with their masterpiece, A Legend of Zelda. In this presentation, I will speak about how The Legend of Zelda and its sequels have become the new digital mythology of a generation and how the medium of the modern video game is an ideal place for story and mythology at large.

歴史を通して見ると、人間にとって物語や神話は非常に重要であり、これは現在のデジタル時代でも共通である。これらの神話には、広く社会に受け入れられているという共通点がある。

ニンテンドーが1986年に発表した「ゼルダの伝説」は、初めてゲームの物語にインタラクティブ性を取り入れた点で広く社会に知られている。そこで本発表では、このインタラクティブ性に注目し、「ゼルダの伝説」とその続編をデジタル時代の新たな神話として定義し、紹介する。さらに、ゲームがインタラクティブ性を備えたことによって、いかにゲームが物語を語る上で理想的な環境となったのかを紹介する。

The Mythology in and of Games: Why the Legend of Zelda is just as important as the legend of Beowulf

Venue: PAX East 2014, Boston

Date: April 13th, 2014

PANELISTS: Christopher Michael Yap [Games Researcher, Nara Institute of Science and Technology] Jon Padua [Artist in Residence, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council] Thomas May III [Games Researcher, Michigan State University]

Mythology at large is the very essence and timeless story of humanity. The advent of the modern video game has undoubtedly reinvigorated the phenomenon of the myth, granting new life and form to well-known legends of old as well as enabling the interactive telling of new digital myths. In this panel, we will discuss how myths and legends live in the digital tapestry of games, discuss some well-known examples of how classical mythology has been reinterpreted as interactive digital games, and we even boldly and happily claim what gamers at large have intrinsically known all along—that games may very well be the future shape of myth in the digital age.

Conceptualizing Player-side Emergence in Papers, Please and Gone Home

Venue: International Academic Conference on Meaningful Play 2014 (Michigan State University, Lansing, Michigan)

Date: October 17th, 2014

The concept of emergence--that a certain thing may emerge from several distinct (and not necessarily related) parts, which is different, larger in scope, and mostly originally unintended or expected--exists in many fields such as Philosophy, Information Science, and Biology. With respect to the modern video game, emergence can potentially manifest as emergent narrative and/or emergent gameplay. Furthermore, emergence in games can potentially manifest through true technological, procedurally-generated gameplay and/or a game design which encourages emergence from the game elements within the mind of the player.

            In this paper, we engage in a critical discussion about what it means for an interactive video game to have emergence. Firstly, we will be briefly discussing what emergence means to other scientific disciplines, and in doing so delineate specifically how we will be using the term "Emergent" in reference to interactive video games. We then frame the discussion of Emergence in games by considering a range of recent video game examples, and a close critical look at the critically-acclaimed indie games Papers, Please and Gone Home. From these analyses, we propose a concept of "Player-side emergence in games," in which emergence in the form of narrative is expressible and observable in games as the result of the current technological capabilities of games, which relies not on the game software itself, but rather upon the complex system of the human mind for reconstruction of the game experience and a subsequent expression of emergence.  In this proposed concept, the constituent narrative pieces offered by a game can be expressed emergently as a unified, overall game narrative experience by the player mind. Based on this concept, we propose that emergence in a game need not wait or rely upon the advent of a truly, technology-based procedurally-generated platform, but rather can be an expression of player-side experiential reconstruction. We conclude that emergent narrative between video game and player can manifest so long as a human player can be encouraged via the game's mechanics towards an overall narrative reconstruction whose blueprint does not wholly originate from the source game, and we also contend that such an emergent design consideration can be potentially useful for designers who are trying to deal with the trade-off of Ludo-Narrative Dissonance in their games.

Genetic Predestiny vs. Digital Free Will: A Critical Analysis of Character Foils in Metal Gear Solid

Venue: Replaying Japan 2014 2nd International Conference on Japan Game Studies (University of Alberta, Edmonton)

Date: August 21st, 2014

In this paper, we commit to a close critical reading of the narrative and plot of MGS, paying particular attention to the character foil of Solid and Liquid Snake, in order to 
1. explicate the layers of meaning present within the character foil of the protagonist Solid Snake, and the primary antagonist Liquid Snake, and in doing so render an interpretation relative to both the foil itself and the overall narrative of the game 
2. examine how the character foil present in MGS behaves in an interactive video game, and in doing so, we can make some meaningful inferences about how appropriate such a kind of literary device is for the interactive medium of games 
Addressing these questions using a popular game such as MGS as the focus of the study can potentially render insights into game design with respect to narrative and will contribute to an understanding of narrative design practices for interactive video games, especially those which are narrative-centric. Our observations in this regard indicate that while Character Foils can function in interactive video games, it is to the advantage of the designer to employ Character Foils either amongst NPCs only, or, as is the case with MGS, to use a foil with a Player Character which is sufficiently understood to be separate from the Player. Add Description here

「インタラクティブ物語:文学としてのテレビゲーム」("Interactive Stories: Video Games as Literature")

Venue: 大阪大学吹田キャンパス/Osaka University, Suita Campus

Date: February 2012

(Note: this presentation is in Japanese) Video games now rival other more conventional media such as that of print and cinema in terms of market strength, emotive power, and interactivity. As the technology of video games progresses, so too does the power it has to tell stories. In this talk, I outline the need to understand the narratives of games on an academic level, and discuss my research goals to that end.

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