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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 10 / 26





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3.1 Mimetic and Diegetic considerations and VR

The AI community in the last few years has been strongly influenced by the

Aristotelian approach to narrative and has recently produced significant work based

on those conceptions [6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13]. However, Aristotle’s plot centred

approach [16] does not include interactivity between the author and the user as a

possible factor or component of the narrative and this makes it hard to apply to VR

without serious modification (hence Mateas describes his approach as ‘neo-

Aristotlean’). A plot centred approach conflicts with the freedom VR potentially

offers to the user and can therefore be very restrictive. In order to reconcile

interactivity and narrative while still providing the user with a satisfactory level of

freedom within a 3D environment, Aylett as well as Nath [18, 19], argue for the

consideration of a character based narrative form. This presents the double advantage

for the user of, on the one hand, taking part in a unique experience, and on the other,

acting freely without the constraints imposed by a plot centred approach.

Theatre and Cinema clearly work largely from a mimetic perspective, sharing a

particular awareness of the spectator’s visual engagement. Cinema and film theorists

have added to the general Aristotelian conception of mimesis, for example by

including the conception of narration from different perspectives in order to

emphasise dramatic structure. The camera can then be thought of as “an observer

ideally mobile in space and time” [4] or an invisible observer. However Bordwell [2]

argues that these approaches only partially cover the narrational roles of other film


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