Friday, February 10, 2017

Nifty Nodes: Decay and Deconstruction (Enchanted Assemblages)

I want you to deconstruct this moment of decay. Now!
Remember that post I wrote which I talked about how each Node was associated with a different critical theory? Well, I forgot to mention that each Node also is categorized by whether they are a ‘decay’ or ‘deconstruction’ Node. This doesn’t fundamentally alter how the Node is approached by the player (not really), but it does shift how the player interacts with the material.

                So, a ‘decay’ Node is the more straightforward Node. There is a scenario, people to interact with, and artifacts; the player is able to do different things which each post by using their interpretive abilities. Once they feel they have absorbed all that they can from a Node, they then submit an interpretation of that Node—if they want to do so on the macro-scale—on the designated post.

                The purpose of a decay Node is to acclimate players to investigation, i.e., close reading. This is where they are encouraged to build their own thesis to ‘ward off literalist decay’. Hence why I feel that it is the most straightforward Node, because in this Node is where they will engage most often with the sort of reading they are expected to do while an undergraduate.

                A ‘deconstruction Node,’ something being based in Derridean notions of the term, is a little more convoluted but not by much. Here, the player encounters a situation, but it is one which has already fended off, at least temporarily, the forces of literalism; so ‘decay’ is not an issue here thanks to the intrepid abilities of the Green Knight (who’s the one who provided the interpretation which brought a level of stability to the locale). In a certain sense, the player’s mission here is to unwind the knot.

                Deconstruction Nodes encourage the player to, yes, ultimately build a thesis on what they might want to change, what aspect of the existing interpretation may be altered or improved in some way, but it is more than that. These Nodes push the idea of finding the seams of existing interpretation: how did someone arrive at the interpretation that they did, what did they do with each aspect of the text, what were the short comings of their thesis, where do redundant and contradictory points emerge and overlap, in what sense does the ‘word-play’ of the situation deaden the interpretation making it open-ended (allowing decay to seep in), and so on.

                All this being said, only those Nodes outside of the story are relevant to issues of ‘decay’ or ‘deconstruction’. I do plan on giving the player the ability to submit an interpretation of each piece of the main narrative, but this does not extend to each narrative slice having a specific categorization.

Why this is, is because for a lot of the narrative, the player already is engaging in a low-key deconstruction as they stomp about the major castle; they just don’t know its significance until later. Also, the main story falls under its own kind of interpretative framework in that the player’s options in theoretically altering the text, increase dramatically in comparison to the simple two tool-kit framework which is at their disposal for the optional Nodes. In the main story, the idea is to give the players a wide exposure so they may return to the Nodes and apply the theory from the story. As such, the main narrative having a ‘decay’ or ‘deconstruction’ tag would be counter-productive to what I am trying to accomplish when both are already present, merely in a greatly lessened format.