This piece originally appeared on MediaCommons, November 18, 2013.
Our discussion of digital media and narrative coincides with the launch of the eighth generation of video game consoles. Microsoft's third console, the Xbox One, will appear on store shelves around the world later this week. It seems appropriate that, as the release of new platforms heralds the next evolution of video game development, we take this opportunity to (re)assess the intersections of digital media and narrative study.
Videogames have long been at the forefront of discussion about digital storytelling. Particularly in the nineteen-nineties, when affordable personal computing, the popularization of the Internet, and the rise of the dedicated gaming console coincided with advances in virtual reality simulation research led to speculation about a version of Hamlet playing on the Holodeck, video games looked like the future of narrative. Whether or in what capacity games have fulfilled those projections is a topic for debate. If Microsoft's own introduction of the Xbox One last May is any indication, there is still a great deal of optimism that video games can capitalize on their narrative potential. And yet, their press event revealed that this optimism still hinges on videogaming's assumed immersivity.