Critical Reading #4: Brenda Laurel, “Narrative Construction as Play”

In this essay Brenda Laurel discusses Narrative Construction in the context of interactive media.  She describes that it is seldom used in the design of interactive media, but that it is a useful aspect of it. Laurel also discusses the factor that gender seems to have on the appeal of constructive play. She states that “constructive play is predominately engaged in by boys… [b]ut when you include stories as something that may be constructed, you find that girls engage in constructive play with at least the same frequency and relish” (Laurel, Brenda. “Narrative Construction as Play.” Interactions. accessed December 03, 2010. <http://courses.ecuad.ca/mod/resource/view.php?inpopup=true&id=40139>). The aspect of gender in relation to media is something that Laurel continues to discuss throughout the article.

Laurel argues that research shows girls to be more interested in digital media which involves narrative and story. I find this to be slightly questionable however in certain statements, such as when she claims that the incorporation of narrative into digital media “[is the] sort of constructive play that invites women and girls to join the computer-game party” (Laurel, Brenda. “Narrative Construction as Play.” Interactions. accessed December 03, 2010. <http://courses.ecuad.ca/mod/resource/view.php?inpopup=true&id=40139>). I think that to group women into a blanket category such as this can be problematic, and that this statement can be interpreted as condescending.

Aside from this aspect, I think it is interesting that Laurel continues on to discuss the success of comics-turned-movies and how that success is related to the expansion of back story and character development. She concludes that narrative construction is a large factor in how we view the world, and that it is integral to every day life. Laurel states that interactive designers should take this into consideration.

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