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Cyber-Aristotle: towards a poetics for interactive screenwriting

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Abstract:

Through analysing appropriations of Aristotelian dramatic theory within interactive digital narratives (Laurel 1991, Hiltunen 2002, Mateas and Stern 2005), this article assesses the merits of Aristotle's Poetics in providing a basis for an interactive screenwriting poetics. From the six components of tragedy (plot, character, thought, diction, melody, spectacle) to mimesis and catharsis, these concepts are examined for their value in a new media context. The hierarchy of the components is challenged and new formal and material causative relations are explored, using the interactive drama Faade (Mateas and Stern, 2005) as an example. With new dramatic configurations emerging (such as spatial plotting and narrative architecture), the question posed is - to what degree can Aristotelian thought really aid the interactive screenwriting process? If this approach can not yield substantial results, what is the alternative?

Keywords: Aristotle; cyber-drama; digital media; interactive screenwriting; narrative architecture; new media; poetics

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1386/josc.1.1.99/1

Affiliations: National Film School, IADT, Dublin.

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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  • The Journal of Screenwriting aims to explore the nature of writing for the moving image in the broadest sense, highlighting current academic thinking around scriptwriting whilst also reflecting on this with a truly international perspective and outlook. The journal will encourage the investigation of a broad range of possible methodologies and approaches to studying the scriptwriting form, in particular: the history of the form, contextual analysis, the process of writing for the moving image, the relationship of scriptwriting to the production process and how the form can be considered in terms of culture and society. The journal also aims to encourage research in the field of screenwriting, the linking of scriptwriting practice to academic theory, and to support and promote conferences and networking events on this subject.
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