Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hermeneutic Building Blocks (Enchanted Assemblages)

When discussing my Gawain-adaptation previously, I mentioned how, ideally, it would be pleasant to incorporate a sort of performative-linguistic, something which associates physical movements with words and those combinations, therefore, with hermeneutic actions. I have since seen that this is too unpractical; honestly, it is just beyond my abilities to present—it would take too much time, effort, and resources for one person to form. And, honestly, I think it would end up obscuring interpretative reality more than anything else. So I ditched it.

I likewise ditched any hopes of presenting a distinction between Structualist methods of interpretation and post-Structualist. Instead, I have implemented a new system along post-Structualist lines which aims to, nonetheless, allow the player to use either form of reading in their gameplay. Whether you call this a retreat or slide-back to reality, it is what it is, so allow me to explain what the present reality constitutes.

Essentially, the shape of my last hypothesis has been retained, but with some minor differences.
Regarding the construction of the game itself, it is still a blog based game (though the more I think about it, the more I feel that something like this would be better suited to an interactive novel). As I just said, the idea behind the world is that of a post-Structualist creation. Primarily, it is deconstruction based, or, the adaptation takes influence from classical Derridean or ‘High’ Deconstruction.

In these terms, then, what Derrida knew as writing is the world itself (the world of the adaptation). DiffĂ©rance is the practice of revealing the world’s ‘system of representation’—that of the sound-image; so in this sense, diffĂ©rance akin to a combat style, the intent being to use the its underlying principals, the ‘Metaphysics of Presence’, against foes and situational challenges by demonstrating the inherent aporia of reality’s figuration (as seen through discovering the various fissures between the various magical sediment). In this sense, when it comes to combat—not that there is a lot of actual combat in the traditional sense known to a video game—I have devised this ideas of a ‘accelerationist combo multiplier’ where players, in order to get to the literary-linguistic Real, that of the pure-signified, are doomed to keep multiplying signifiers; each signifier is an attack that puts and enemy or locale under erasure and causes them to de-legitimate.

All of this sounds very complicated but it is not so much in the actual game. In the game, the player will just have a set of mechanics available to them when they encounter each scenario. There will not be any need to memorize elaborate definitions and sets of terms.

This is because encounters are not actually combat, but situational encounters. You see, the player will confront enemies, but these enemies—even the large scale boss battles which are designed to test a player’s mettle and are akin to formal academic essays—are encoded within situational challenges; they are a part of the world and so the player uses the principals of interpreting the world to confront these foes. And because the world’s interpretation follow a definite rote, the focus lies on interpreting the world in order to defeat those foes. It is like a puzzle, but with interpretation instead of puzzle pieces.

Let me explain.

I have said that what the player encounters is situational. This is because in order to enact interpretations, the player must literally read the world. I am forcing the player to do this by incorporating a very ‘on the nose’ idea taken from a poet whose name I cannot look up (since, at the time of writing this post, I do not have internet access). But the idea is this: poetry formed as images, the lines of poetry contorted into various images which add a surplus of meaning to the poetry.

I intend to utilize this concept for my game by embedding poetry—from the mother text but my own as well—into literal images within the game world. These poetry-images, contortions of poems into images formed by those poem’s lines, are subsumed underneath normal images which represent scenarios and locales of the game world. The idea is that players will mold the poetry-image into certain shapes—that of the performative linguistic—and from those shapes, certain effects will take place within the literal image; since each image and poetry-image is associated with a certain scenario, something that demands a specific action by the player, the player will have to consider what they want to do with the poetry-image, as their choices will affect the image and potentially result in unsavory results for whatever scenario they are embroiled within. Adding complexity to this is, of course, critical theory; since in this game world, critical theory is different forms of magic which have set into the game world like underwater currents, they, of course, exist all throughout the environment. When interpreting the game world, the player will need to consider how certain theoretical (magical) sedimentation will effect their interpretative-action (whatever that may be).

So, yeah, in a sense, there is still a performative linguistic, or a grammar of interpretation. It is just been streamlined. I do hate to say, though, that so far a lot of these actions that the player is able to undertake are arbitrary. For instance, if a player decides on contorting the poetry-image into a circle in order to make a chasm appear on the literal image, then that is just like that because that’s how it is—there is no deeper underlying rationale for why a circle creates a chasm or what parts of the text the player need to connect in order to make a circle: a circle made from any part of the text will be a circle. Period. The player will only need to consider their choices in the sense that they are only able to do so much with the poetry-image. Other than that, though, there is no philosophical or theoretical demand placed on the player. This is not to say I didn’t try, but I will come clean and say that every time I go close to developing such a system, I either realized that it had little to do with interpretation itself, or it made the game far too difficult—it went against the driving philosophy of always keeping the player engaged and doing something, a fast paced adventure, while also being intellectually appropriate for high schoolers and first year college students. To add a lot of nuance concerning how players would be able to twist the poetry-image, such as being only able to connect, for example, a verb with a noun, or whatever, would have created too steep a learning curve; besides, as I said, I am not interested in teaching grammar or punctuation, I am interested in interpretation, and such rationales would have diverted from the main attraction.

Even so, I really like where this is heading. I feel that what I have created so far in my brainstorming is a faithful reproduction of the techniques of Close Reading, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Circle. It is, perhaps, not as intellectual or clever as I would like it, but I feel that, for now, it will more than do.

So, that’s it for now. Next time I will jabber on about some of the nuance of this performative-linguistic.