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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 20 / 26





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A second and more encompassing theoretical approach might borrow from dynamic

systems theory [32] in which methods of describing the possible trajectories of the

dynamic system over a multi-dimensional surface are sought. This intuitively

corresponds to the idea that a narrative generated dynamically by interaction

represents a trajectory across the story-surface of all possible interactions. An element

of this approach can be seen in Cavazza [29,30] in which a universal plan [33] for

each character is used as a description of the narrative space. The role of story

management in this view is to guide and evaluate the trajectory. This account

potentially offers its own way of evaluating the direction of narrative interaction. If

one extracts a number of key dimensions from the imagined surface, it is then

possible to visualise properties such as the rapidity of change along those dimensions

for particular interactions.

For example, causality may be considered an important component of narrative. In

some parts of the imagined story surface, an event may generate few consequences,

while on other parts of the surface; an event may generate many consequences. One

can visualise this as an area of relative flatness in the first case, or of steep gradient in

the second. The role of dramatic management is then to navigate over the surface such

that the gradient changes in an 'interesting' way’, effectively producing something

like a narrative roller coaster ride (though not necessarily with as many ups and

downs as a real-world roller-coaster). The concept of dispatchers quoted by Cavazza

[29,30] and based on Barthes one then be one factor in such dramatic management.

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