Participating in a Story: Exploring Audience Cognition
Forskningsoutput: Avhandling › Doktorsavhandling (monografi)
Stories that the audience can influence (such as computer games and other interactive multimedia), in contrast to 'traditional' stories (such as books and cinema), present a challenge to fields which take narrative (story) as their study object. What is the difference between these two kinds of stories? Earlier theories have focused on differences in media, structure, or the audience's physical actions. In part I of this book (the theoretical framework), it is argued that earlier approaches fail to capture the difference between these two kinds of stories because they have neglected the role of cognition. A classification of participatory stories is presented that argues for the necessity of cognition among the classificatory criteria. The concept of participatory stories is defined as fictional stories in which the audience can choose between potential event sequences. The manner in which participation is performed, what actions or sense modalities are used, is argued to be immaterial. Participatory stories involve a common cognitive ability and can take many forms, both computerised and non-computerised, such as role-playing, children's pretence play, and computer games. In Part II of the book, the proposed cognitive difference is investigated in explorative empirical studies, where the idea is to study cognition through language. Eight participants were exposed to events from five source conditions with varying degrees of participation and fictionality: an interactive fiction computer game, a printed non-participatory version of the computer game, a printed short story, real personal experience, and practical laboratory tasks. Participants were later interviewed about these events while being audio-visually recorded. The transcriptions are analysed from three main viewpoints: Analysis of spatial cognition show that people who used a participatory story (as opposed to a short story) spontaneously constructed elaborate spatial mental representations of the story world. Investigation of reality monitoring memory qualities of events reveal that these did not differ across the five conditions. Analysis of how perspective on events was manifested in speech show that people adopted an outside, distant perspective on events from the short story. In contrast, on events from a participatory story, an inside, close perspective was adopted, similar to that of real events from personal experience.
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