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23858Re: [mythsoc] RPG fiction

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  • WendellWag@aol.com
    Dec 18, 2012
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      There's something that often gets assumed that shouldn't be assumed.  I'm going to be talking about this attitude in general rather than specifically in reply to this post.  First, let's define the term "narrative structures."  This can be novels, short stories, plays, films, poems with a narrative, TV shows (either single episodes or series), etc.  I'm going to use the term "narrative structure" rather than "narrative" since some people want to include games in this set.  A game isn't a single narrative but a structure to fit various narratives into.
       
      People seem to think that any narrative structure can be translated from one medium to another.  Indeed, they think that the narrative structure can be easily translated with no harm to it.  I think this is wildly wrong.  This is why I'm annoyed when someone asks about how a particular novel can be adopted as a movie without first asking if it should be made into a movie at all.  The same thing is true of making novels into games, and it's true of any translation of narrative structures from one medium to another.
       
      People seem baffled when I say that I love to read novels, I love to watch films, and yet sometimes I think it's a big mistake to adopt a great novel into a movie.  The kind of movies I watch are different from the kind of novels that I read.  If I played games very much, I suspect that the kind that I played would be different from the kind of novels or movies I like.
       
      People will say then that the Hollywood people who decide which movies get made from which novels must know what they're doing.  After all, it's their job to do that.  No, it's their job to make money.  The quality of the screenplay is only one part of their decision to make a movie, and this is especially true when it's a big-budget film.  They have to look at all sorts of things, like who's attached to the film (i.e., who the actors, director, screenwriter, etc. will be), how well known the novel is (regardless of whether it makes sense to film it), what kinds of tie-ins (kid's toys, fast-food offers, etc.) are possible, how well the film would sell in other countries (since big-budget films these days must do well internationally), whether it's possible to create a good advertising campaign for it, etc.  Yes, sometimes they successfully translate a novel to film and make money on it.  Sometimes they produce a poor movie that can be sold well, so they make money anyway.  Sometimes they lose money on it (and often because they didn't think enough about getting a good screenplay).  I'm not obligated to trust their intuition about what's a good film any more than I'm obligated to listen to anyone else's opinion about the quality of a film.
       
      In any case, my point is that the idea that a good narrative structure in one medium is necessarily a good narrative structure in another medium just isn't true.
       
      In a message dated 12/18/2012 9:14:41 A.M. Eastern Standard Time, john@... writes:
      And that is a level of immersion that no novel, not even one by Tolkien or Tolstoy, can achieve.
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