Caught the Bug & Why Do We Tell Stories

Today is the first day of Telling stories in a digital format. I think I’m going to like this course. It’s the essence of my being… The prof (Max Piesner) is a writer, and has worked as lead writer on various games, including one really high profile X-Men game that’s about to come out. The course is an education in telling stories with a little bit of a focus on video games, my lifeblood!

First fun fact: fables are about animals. Parables about humans. Didn’t know this. The Fable game series is by it’s own inception, defunct. Peter Molyneux, take a class.

First assignment: make 5 blog posts. Make that 4.

The first class: The history of storytelling. We talked about where it came from and why we bother.

It was funny actually, story telling is pretty simple and straightforward. When you think about it a story only serves 2 purposes. To entertain, and to enrich. Maybe it makes you laugh, maybe it makes you sad, and maybe it just tells you how things work. But it’s either entertaining you or enriching your life/mind.

We watched some stand up for Woody Allen, a classic routine that you can find on youtube. It’s called the Moose Story, and it was pretty hilarious. Here it is for the curious among thee:

Essentially, everyone tells stories, all the time. It began orally, possibly drawn, and it went from there. To plays, to books, to radio, to film and to video games. All these mediums tell stories, to enrich or more likely, to entertain. Stand up routines are made up of lots of stories, all to entertain us. There’s not a movie we will watch that doesn’t follow the basic building blocks of writing a good story, and I’m sure I’ll talk more about that one day.

The teach also mentioned character driven stories, which he defined as stories that are driven forward by the choices of it’s characters. The reason this stands out in my mind is because the night before I watched the movie Contagion. It’s basically a study on epidemics in the modern world, and how much more damage the human race will do on itself then any bug floating in the air. It’s really interesting, because it opens the movie with a giant question mark: “DAY 2”. Wait, this girl is already sick, what happened to day one? The movie then begins investigating the origins of the bug, while the fear in America tears it’s heartland apart. Suddenly, the fear overtakes the reasoning, and the investigation is brought to a halt when officials kidnap it’s lead detective to secure first receipt of the Vaccine. Funny enough, the fear overtakes America, the plot, and the audience to a point where you forget about the origins and aren’t even concerned, instead you’re staring horrified at what the world is willing to do to itself when they don’t know who will live tomorrow.

To give a proverbial finger to the audience, after a brief emotional punctuation, the origins are shown very clearly and you realize how tiny a coincidence is capable of driving the world mad. This is not character driven story telling, it’s the exact opposite.

Also, as far as recommendations are concerned, I say watch Contagion. It’s good, and Soderbergh never disappoints (me).

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