(Note from Roger: We're hoping we can get a range of different types of VGHVI types to submit papers. You don't have to be a professor to come to New Orleans and contribute, and this could be a really fun occasion to bring together a cross-section of VGHVI people! If you think you might be interested in contributing something, edit yourself in up here, or contact me in another of the many places you can find me!)

(Note from Matthew: Here is the working proposal, trimmed down. Click here to see the requirements. The proposal needs to be 250 words, with 100 word proposals for each of the sections. At this point, I would need two, maybe three, other individuals to help me present. We can set up a round table discussion, and have a presentation first. The panel would last 80 minutes. Right now, I want to do section three, because I have some ideas of how to work it. However, we need to collaborate on each section. Also, I really want to have the proposal completed by October 1st, so I need to know who is on board. This is a great opportunity!)

NBA Live 09's new Dynamic DNA feature would be great to add to the sports section.

(The main section, minus specific sections, is 237 words, so it is ok. Each specific presentation needs to have around a 100 word proposal. I am planning on doing the machinima and uploaded video section. Whoever wishes to do the other two, jump in and take over. I have 100 words for the bottom section. Do you think we should separate it into machinima and uploaded videos, eliminating sports games?)

The Chief Link: An Examination of the Bards' Foray into the Video Game Realm

In today’s society, games continue the oral tradition presented throughout the ages; however, the author of the experience changes. In the case of video games, the player becomes the author. Non-linear narratives, MMORPGs, uploaded videos, achievements, and marketing models have allowed the audience, in effect, to become the modern bard, creating their own experience and glory through the interactions they experience in the virtual realm. In essence, the player weaves his or her own story in the same way the old soldier narrates Beowulf’s tale, after he slays Grendel:

. . . And sometimes a proud old soldier
Who had heard songs of the ancient heroes
And could sing them all through, story after story,
Would weave a net of words for Beowulf's
Victory, tying the knot of his verses
Smoothly, swiftly, into place with the poet's
Quick skill, singing his new song aloud
While he shaped it, and the old songs as well---(867-74)

The preceding lines from Beowulf represent the narrative structure set out in video games, as a story ever changing and forming in the player's mind, propelling the player towards a complete narrative and glory on a global level. Our panel will explore these relationships between video games and the continuation of the oral tradition in three distinct sections: adventure games, uploaded videos, and machinima.


The panel will be made up of three distinct sections.

1. Adventure Games:

The incredible variety of games in which the player has an adventure, comprising a range so broad that it takes us from Halo and Gears of War, to Call of Duty, to The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and finally even to GTA IV, can easily obscure the most basic and important element they share with one another--which is in turn what they share with epic traditions, and above all the classical epic tradition that lies at the root of our culture and civilization. A structural analysis of games' and epics' economy of improvisation against a narrative backdrop, immersion, and creative performance has the potential to transform positively both our games and our culture.

2. Uploaded Videos:

One of the fundamental goals of an epic hero, to achieve glory in life and maintain it in death, manifests itself through video games. Multiple games allow the user to upload video files of his or her exploits. This innovation allows users to narrate, in a way, their own glorious accomplishments in the virtual realm. Beowulf and other epic heroes fight for glory and fame, to be remembered long after their death. In the same way, gamers can experience their own fame that will travel over the entire world in seconds. This experience grants players their own form of kleos, creating a narrative experience that can be shared and enjoyed by millions.

3. Machinima

Machinima, on the other hand, allows the player to take the virtual world of the video game and create a totally unique narrative that deviates from the original game, to a certain extent. Individuals, staring with Halo, have taken the fictitious world of games and turned them into socio-poltical commentary (Call of Duty 4), fantasy adventures (WOW), and educational tutorials (Halo), along with other genres, turning games into a medium for story telling and education. The player assumes the role as director, formulating a narrative that may either correspond with the game's narrative structure or branch off into someting entirely new. This deviation allows the player (creator in this instance) to construct an epic that may, like the uploaded videos of gamers' exploits, reach the far corners of the world in seconds over the Internet, allowing the creator to become a bard.


4. Sports Games:

Sports games allow the player the greatest control over a new narrative created by the player. Namely, they allow the player to create a team, plays, and take over managerial duties such as salaries, as well as letting the player play a game. With this, nothing is scripted before hand, allowing for a unique narrative experience.