Philosophy Colloquium
Brock Rough
University of Maryland, College Park
Incomplete Mario and Impossible Zelda: The Special Problem of Interactive Fiction

When engaging with a work of fiction one task we must accomplish is determining what is true of the fictional world described by the work. Fictions prescribe particular authorized games of make-believe. It is a challenging task to determine which fictional truths are prescribed by a fiction even when dealing with paradigms of fiction such as literature and film. Inconsistencies and incomplete aspects threaten to make such fictional worlds deeply problematic, seeming to prescribe impossible or incoherent imaginings about the fictional worlds. Kendall Walton has pointed out a set of principles of generation for fictional truths that serve as helpful guides in determining such truths and assuaging apparent problems. Videogames however present a unique problem in the generation of fictional truths due to their interactivity. The question is what games of make-believe does any particular videogame prescribe and authorize for those who interact with it? In this paper I will present the main difficulties facing such a task, namely the special problem of fiction in videogames, examine extant principles and the work they do, what particular understanding of the principles is helpful while considering interactivity, and finally propose an understanding of how fictional truths are generated in videogames that is in line with Walton's general project and that resolves the initially troubling inconsistencies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

1103 Taliaferro Hall