Monday, November 30, 2009

Theory and praxis in this research project.

In this paper we will address both theory and praxis.  The two research questions show this.

Information Theory and Adaptation

I wonder how information theory (from the fields of computer science, mathematics and communication studies) can be applied to transmedia adaptations.  Information theory focuses on how information is transmitted with special attention given to the errors/data loss in the process.  Is data lost in adaptations?

Is this comparison mere metaphor or something more?  

Types of Transmedia Adaptations

comic book
video game
e.g. modern update of older novel


film adaptation of novel

e.g. films based on Marvel comics

comic book

video game

Women's Murder Club games

Initial thoughts.  More to be worked out later.

Three Levels of Analysis in Transmedia Narratology

When moving a story from one medium to another there seems to be 3 areas (or levels?) to focus on.
  1. Is the original author's style preserved?
  2. Are the particular aspects of original genre preserved?
  3. Is the story preserved?
There appears to be 3 levels of analysis (author, genre, story)

In game studies, it appears that the focus is on level 3.  But, what about genre characteristics and author style?

Of course, this is assuming that the goal is to preserve characteristics of the original.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

James Patterson on Exposition and Character

In this short clip from the site Patterson talks about his style of writing about his characters.  He says his style is colloquial storytelling in which there is not an excess of information shared about the characters.  Some authors give a lot of background information, but Patterson does not.  This works especially when you can spread out background information over a series of novels.

Find more videos like this on The James Patterson Community

Abstract/Proposal for Paper (Draft 2)


Transmedia Narratology, the Mystery Novel and Video Games

by William Hart and Akeem Caffee

By means of narrative criticism this paper aims to answer the following questions: (1) How do mystery narratives change when being adapted from novels to video games? (2) How should mystery video games be designed?

The specific texts analyzed are the Women’s Murder Club series of novels written by James Patterson and the four recently released Women’s Murder Club video games (3 PC and 1 DS). In the past three years Patterson’s books have sold 170 million copies worldwide, more books than any other author. In addition, Patterson has had nineteen consecutive #1 New York Times bestselling novels. However, there is very little scholarly analysis of Patterson’s work compared to the work of Stephen King, for example.

While video games have been around since the 1970s, only in the past decade has video game studies carved out a niche of its own. Within the growing video game studies literature there is some general study of adaptation, however, there is little attention given to adaptation within specific genres. Given that the mystery genre is especially defined by “rules” for how best to construct a mystery, adaptation from a mystery novel to a mystery video game is especially challenging. Thus, a study of how Patterson’s mystery novels have been adapted to mystery video games is worthy of some attention.

The paper concludes with some theoretical insight for transmedia narratology and some practical advice on mystery video game design. Additionally the paper gives some insight on the narratology-ludology debate found in the video game studies literature.

(Note: This paper will be written over the next couple of months.)

Abstract for Paper (Draft 1)

Texts to be Analyzed:
  • James Patterson's 8 Women's Murder Club novels.
  • The 4 Women's Murder Club video games (3 PC and 1 DS).
Justification for Artifacts/Texts:
  • James Patterson novels popular.
  • No or very little scholarly attention to Patterson's "light" novels (as opposed to say King's).
  • Video games new.
  • Study of video games relatively new.
  • Video games more and more popular.
Justification for Study
  • Offer practical advice on video game design, specifically for mystery game design.
  • Provide some theoretical insight on transmedia narratology in the context of mystery narratives.
  • Give some insight on the narratology-ludology debate in video game studies.
Research Questions
  • How best to design mystery video games?
  • How do mystery narratives change when going from novel to video game?
  • Are video games stories/narratives?
  • Narrative analysis (diegesis, storyg, storyc, narrative cohesion, narrative fidelity, preferred reading, etc.)

Photo Info: / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

26 Million People Play Farmville on a Daily Basis

According to software developer, Zynga, 26 million people play Farmville, the Facebook-based farm simulation game, on a daily basis. There are 65 million users total. My 2 youngest daughters are 2 of the 65 million users.

Online casual video games deserve some attention, yes?


Legends & Legacies: James Patterson (YouTube Video)

A 4 minute + video giving some good background on James Patterson.

Call to Attention: The Call of Duty Video Games

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2According to a recent Activision press release the six video games in the Call of Duty franchises have sold over 55 million units worldwide. After you do the math that is $3 billion in retail sales worldwide.

We need some points of comparison. The Call of Duty sales do not, for example, match the total world-wide box office earnings for the 6 Star Wars films or the 6 Harry Potter films but, they are getting closer. The Call of Duty franchises does, however, surpass the 3 Pirates of the Caribbean films or the 3 The Lord of the Rings films in gross sales world-wide (see top grossing film franchises).

Also, according to the press release, the latest installment in the series, Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2, earned $550 million in world-wide sales in the first five days, "the biggest entertainment launch in history." As another point of comparison, the recent release of The Twilight Saga: New Moon only reached $338 million in world-wide sales in 8 days.* New Moon is "the third highest-grossing opening behind only The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 3."
More interestingly, Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, Inc. said "If you consider the number of hours our audiences are engaged in playing Call of Duty games, it is likely to be one of the most viewed of all entertainment experiences in modern history."

With numbers and statements like these, video games deserve some attention, yes?

An extra: A Video Review of Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2

* In fairness, New Moon was not released in all countries on the same day. However, even considering this staggered release Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is at least comparable.

Possible Titles for Transmedia Narratology Paper

  • Transmedia Narratology in the Mystery Genre
  • Mystery Novel to Mystery Video Game: .....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What is Transmedia Narratology?

Transmedia narratology is defined here as the study of how story and story structure change in the process of moving from one medium to another (e.g. from novel to film, from novel to video game, from scientific publication to print news story).