“Unraveling Braid” analyzes how unconventional, non-linear narrative fiction can help explain the ways in which video games signify. Specifically, this essay looks at the links between the semiotic features of Jonathan Blow’s 2008 puzzle-platform video game Braid and similar elements in Georges Perec’s 1978 novel Life A User’s Manual, as well as in other puzzle-themed literary precursors. Blow’s game design concepts “dynamical meaning” and “game play rhetoric” are explained in relation to a number of Braid levels; along side this analysis is a parallel examination of the relationship between puzzle-makers and puzzle-solvers in Life A User’s Manual, revealed from a close reading of textual and organizational elements of Perec’s novel. Ultimately, Braid and Life A User’s Manual are shown to draw upon the same signifying processes, which are understood by their authors to operate within an implicitly communicative model. “Unraveling Braid”develops this model by positing a theory of storytelling in the imperative mood, in which the representation and arrangement of objects in the visual/organizational space of the text or game world becomes a fundamental rhetorical technique and meaning-maker.This technique signal show the reader/player is meant to progress through the work and interpret it as narrative, telling the reader/player what to do. An understanding of “imperative” storytelling, this essay concludes, allows for a discussion of games and other media that denies neither the importance of player interactivity nor that of authorial design.
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DOI 10.1177/0270467612469071
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Narration in the Fiction Film.David Bordwell - 1985 - University of Wisconsin Press.

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