Krystina is interested in whether digital media is too constrained by current popular ideas about 'traditional' narrative.
She notes that books have always been a tool for educating children, particularly from the 17th century onwards. Print maintained its importance in this regard even as radio, television and other media became prominent.
Games currently offer a very limited and stripped-down selection of stories. Game developers have a very broad range of narrative types available to them, yet they tend to stick to the very linear stories that are considered 'traditional' - Aristotle's arc, stories with a beginning, middle and end. Yet this has not been the dominant model forever. (.)
Many classic storytelling styles have fallen by the wayside - consider earlier traditions such as the chorus in Greek drama. A classic narrative structure of an earlier age was the oral Epic, which was different in many ways to the current model. They were rarely chronologically linear, for example. Bards would pick parts of the story to tell - to tell the entire story at once would take two or three days.
Krystina discusses a number of once common story types in detail. She believes that the model of rising and falling tension in Freytag's triangle is now the dominant model, and this gives the impression that it is the norm - but this is not so. She believes that storytellers are put off from working with games by these apparent constraints of the storytelling, but also that these constraints are unnecessary.
She moves on to consider a test study of a child named Anna from the ages of 1 to 5. She saw stories as a series of binary dramatic incidents, with a beginning and an opposing ending. Stories were simply considered as strings of binary dramatic incidents. She was impatient with setting the scene or concluding the story properly - once the binary incident was over, she lost interest in the story. This serves to illustrate another way to look at story structure.
Conclusion: The dominance of the current popular model of storytelling is limiting the development of narrative - there are lots of varieties to explore. Digital games suffer from this in particular. Why do we choose to restrict ourselves when our literary history is so diverse?
Question and answer sessions:
Ruth Aylett asks if she's saying, by analogy, that we're all hung up on the idea of the Hollywood three-act structure, when there are French films around too. Presenter enthusiastically agrees with this interpretation. :)
A discussion. Games are a revenue-driven industry - they're not going to experiment because they take so much time and money to make. They're an immature medium which almost entirely use Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey model. The presenter disagrees that game designers don't want to do more - she has found that they consistently express that they wish to do so. Ruth notes that all the 'games people' she's met are hooked on the idea of Hollywood films. There is some discussion about whether there are already game designers who are attempting to move beyond this, but we aren't looking hard enough for them, or promoting them enough.