Exquisite corpses: Narrative emergence in multiplayer zombie video games

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dc.contributor.advisor Cameron, A en
dc.contributor.advisor Curtis, N en
dc.contributor.author May, Lawrence en
dc.date.accessioned 2018-01-23T01:28:17Z en
dc.date.issued 2017 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36871 en
dc.description.abstract Players of multiplayer video games frequently come out of play sessions having experienced vivid and visceral stories that the original ‘authors’ of the text could not have anticipated. This is narrative emergence at work – a phenomenon that sees elements of game design and player actions combine during gameplay to create organic, unpredictable and highly variable stories. For players, these experiences can prove thrilling and are often remembered as defining narrative moments among countless hours of gameplay. However, narrative emergence takes on an ambiguous appearance in scholarship, suffering ill-definition, imprecise practical application, and dismissal as an ephemeral novelty. I re-position narrative emergence as a powerful form of player experience in multiplayer games, one which destabilises the ‘text’ of an individual game and makes its boundaries and meanings fluid and negotiable by players. This study analyses the ways in which collective gameplay generates experiences of narrative, as well as the narrative dimensions of players’ extra-game activities (including images, cinematic videos, walkthroughs, written stories and the production of other paratextual ‘artefacts’). The study of these narrative forms is balanced and deepened by an ongoing consideration of the role of various rulesets as contributors to complex systems of emergence. Through analysis of three case study video games and a digital ethnography of their associated online player communities, I demonstrate the potential for the phenomenon to form a fundamental part of everyday play experiences. Narrative emergence also develops as a phenomenon that is cyclical and recursive in nature, thus boasting enormous potential for shaping individual and collective understandings of game texts and gameplay over time. The study focuses in particular on games featuring zombies as central antagonists. The recurrent figure of the video game zombie, which mediates between chaos and rule-driven predictability, serves as both metaphor and mascot for narrative emergence. The zombie is by nature monstrously emergent, and this alignment is reinforced by the placement of chaos and contingency at the heart of representational construction in zombie media. In the zombie genre, emergent experiences are inherently located at the core of texts as a primary engine for narrative experiences.
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA99264959214102091 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. Previously published items are made available in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/nz/ en
dc.title Exquisite corpses: Narrative emergence in multiplayer zombie video games en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.discipline Media, Film and Television en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en
dc.rights.accessrights http://purl.org/eprint/accessRights/OpenAccess en
pubs.elements-id 721986 en
pubs.org-id Education and Social Work en
pubs.org-id Education and Social Work Admn en
pubs.record-created-at-source-date 2018-01-23 en

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