Video Games as Gesamtkunstwerk: the total artwork – The Narrative Design Exploratorium™

Video Games as Gesamtkunstwerk: the total artwork

“These elements, thus knit together, enclose the performer as with an atmospheric ring of Art and Nature, in which, like to the heavenly bodies, he moves secure in fullest orbit, and whence, withal, he is free to radiate on every side his feelings and his views of life- broadened to infinity, and showered as it were on distances as measureless as those on which the stars of heaven cast their rays of light…”

Richard Wagner

Everyday in a game studio, artists do their painting, sculpting, modeling, and rendering; Play makers script and direct the balance and mechanics of play; filmmakers cut, edit, storyboard, and script; programmers and writers write, write and rewrite; animators choreograph cubist ballets; audio specialists compose music and design sound; it is there in the ether all the arts fuse together to create the total interactive art experiences we call videogames. 

The threshold now stands just beyond reach, ready to create a new form of story, an interactive one. It’s been a long time coming, for over 150 years people have been trying to bring it forth, but heralding its coming most was Richard Wagner, ever famous German composer/conductor/theorist. He called this new form “Gesamtkunstwerk” or the total artwork, the embodiment of all the arts into one fusion in which the fourth wall is dissolved and the spectator becomes actor-player. The video game medium can create drama that is unlike any other; via
projection or role-play a game experience can turn the viewer-user into
a Shakespearian player, making the game world a stage. Role Playing Gamers have been aiming at this form for quite some time. At their highest form games or “plays” inspire in a human being all that is noble, inviting the living to engage in acts without real-world consequences, to live and live again as jester, warrior, wizard or wonder kin.

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This page contains a single article by Stephen E. Dinehart published on May 14, 2008 10:39 PM.

Narrative Designer Manifesto was the previous entry in this blog.

Transmedial Play: cognitive and cross-platform narrative is the next entry in this blog.

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Author Stephen E. Dinehart is a producer, designer, writer, and artist. You can find out more about him on his self-titled website.

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