Storytelling, virtual worlds and untime

By Limor Shiponi

Well, although I’m a storyteller as in pure storytelling it does not mean I’m not interested in all other phenomenas that call themselves storytelling. Non of them are actually storytelling but I don’t think we should ignore them. So today I’m going to relate to virtual worlds since people are asking me a lot about the connection between those and storytelling.

A man shall not eat in untime. -Chaucer

Have you visited a virtual world? try and get into one and you’ll meet untime. Time in those worlds is very different than in reality. First of all – your age. Your avatar can be as old in appearance as you decide¬†but it’s age can’t be older than your subscription date. It takes ages to learn the system and realize what you can do. The fascination of getting to know something new¬†grabs you in and you can spend a lot of time around the smallest detail. You might say it is the same with any newborn. Maybe, but a newborn is busy only with being one and has nothing else on his/her schedule…

Besides, avatar is one thing the actual player – something else. The actual player lives in reality and time goes by and does not come back. Players actions are all time related which is not exactly the same for avatars. In virtual worlds the primer time organization is around the properties of the software and the abilities of technology.

That means that in virtual worlds one of the greatest characteristics of storytelling dissolves – storytelling is a time bound activity, linear, with a beginning, middle and end whether the plot is linear or not. This framing of time is part of what creates the powerful effect of storytelling and it is an echo to a deep human need to create order. Untime creates disorder and therefor cannot serve the inner need for patterned motion.

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