October 25, 2005. 1:15 pm.
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The Sims as Narrative Engine
Jim Barrett, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Modern Languages/HUMlab
How do stories get told with the world’s most popular P.C. game, The Sims? One way is through Machinima animation where visual content from game play is arranged into animated films, many of which are of very high quality, featuring advanced editing techniques voice overs, sound effects, and soundtrack music. But what is interesting is that when a machinima film is being made in a Sims world the “actors” cannot be told what to do but rather scenes are set up and the film maker(s) wait for what they want to happen to happen. Or maybe it does not happen and the story line changes as a result of the algorithms driving the software. This is a form of film making removed somewhat from traditional practice and one which raises many issues regarding the role of narrative in computer game play.
This presentation discusses what is machinima film? How does a story get ‘constructed’ in a machinima film? What are the processes of production between game and film? What are the roles taken up by the player/film maker? Is machinima marginal game play or has it entered into the texture of the game itself? How are the various levels of game presentation (game rules, code, architecture, community) implicated in machinima narrative production? How does the future look for machinima film as a genre?
The machinima films The Awakening I and II by April Hoffman will be the main examples of machinima look at in this presentation. Discussion and questions will be welcome throughout the presentation.