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Towards a narrative theory of Virtual Reality - page 9 / 26





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common ground between theories so that they can be considered, analysed and

compared. If a comparative approach to the characteristics of different media

appeared reasonable, a similar approach to narrative theories seems much more

questionable. The spectrum of abstraction on which they rely is such that, for

instance, a direct comparison between Aristotelian and Structuralist narrative

considerations would find little of use for constructing a narrative theory particular to


Thus we confine ourselves to considering the relevance of each separately to a theory

for VR. We start with concepts from Plato’s [15] high-level approach to narrative,

also considered by Bordwell [2]. We apply the Platonic categories of “Diegesis” (the

poet directly addresses the audience), and “Mimesis”, (the poet addresses the

audience through the use of characters) both to the narrative theories under

consideration and to the various media, including VR. We locate Diegetic theories

and narrative forms as “telling”, in the tradition of oral storytelling, original Greek

drama (at least the chorus) and substantially in the novel, and Mimetic forms and

theories as “showing”, as present in the forms of theatre or cinema. Such a

categorisation allows us to consider narrative as a representation, a structure or a

process [2]. The visual aspects of VR may suggest that we should give more priority

to mimetic considerations as against diegetic ones. However potentially both can

make a positive contribution, so we consider them equally.

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