Another way to put the homology between gaming and writing into practice is through narrative, through story spaces. Recalling Borges' "The Garden of Forking Paths," stories can be games and games can be stories. Galloway (2006) defines a game as "an activity defined by rules in which players try to reach some sort of goal. Games can be whimsical and playful, or highly serious. They can be played alone or in complex social scenarios" (p. 1). Given this definition, then, any game at base has a story. Rules, goals, and play imply beginning, middle, end, effort, exploration, attention, winning, losing, conflict, and challenges -- all of these are the basic ingredients for narrative. Even simple games like Solitaire or Tetris tell a story. However, more complex games, particularly those in the genre of role-playing games like World of Warcraft, are produced, packaged, and invested with pages and pages of narrative. The WoW website describes the game and the world it creates as a place where players "can leave the real world behind and undertake grand quests and heroic exploits in a land of fantastic adventure." WoW players are promised that in Azeroth they will "see what journeys await for those who would plumb the many secrets of this ancient realm." Pages and pages from website to in-game screens to the massive game guide, hint book, and novelization industry all bespeak World of Warcraft as story, as quest, as adventure.

Looking at the narratives produced by a game and analyzing the ways these narratives are produced (and later why and what are the consequences) is another bridge between gaming and writing. Playing the game is enacting the writing of the game; playing the game is writing the playing of the game. For example, even the process of creating a character in WoW is a narrative, and the choices the player makes will determine what the character's name is, what that character looks like, how that character is played, where that character begins the game, and what roles that character will take in the world. The combined forces of the game's algorithms, the available graphics, the playable terrain, quests, and goals, and the player's own imagination and rationales contribute to the game's narratives. Gee writes, "The content of video games, when they are played actively and critically, is something like this: They situate meaning in a multimodal space through embodied experiences to solve problems and reflect on the intricacies of the design of imagined worlds and the design of both real and imagined social relationships and identities in the modern world" (p.48). Even close reading or better yet close playing the way a character is made and the choices available and unavailable to both player and character speaks volumes as to the different narratives about the real world and the fantasy world at play in- and out-of-game.

Close playing, like close reading, requires careful and critical attention to how the game is played (or not played), to what kind of game it is, to what the game looks like or sounds like, to what the game world is like, to what choices are offered (or not offered) to the player, to what the goals of the game are, to how the game interacts with and addresses the player, to how the game fits into the real world, and so on. Close playing is about revealing and analyzing what Galloway calls the diegetic and nondiegetic spaces and features of the game. The diegetic space of a video game "is the game's total world of narrative action. As with cinema, video game diegesis includes both onscreen and offscreen elements" (Galloway, 2006, p. 7) including characters, settings, actions, and events shown or made reference to. The nondiegetic spaces of a video game are "those elements of the gaming apparatus that are external to the world of narrative action" (p. 7) including score, titles, heads-up displays, and pause buttons. In video games, the diegetic and nondiegetic are often interconnected and interdependent. Close playing reveals the ways these elements, these spaces are also connected and dependent on the logics, narratives, and histories of the real world. As Constance Steinkuehler (2007) says, MMORPGs are "indeed a constellation of literary practices" (p. 301). For example, close playing allows diegetic features like gun violence in the game and nondiegetic features like the real world Columbine shootings to be articulated and contextualized in ways that complicate notions of violence, gaming, identity, and sociality. As Henry Jenkins (2000) argues, "We should instead look at games as an emerging art form -- one that does not simply simulate violence but increasingly offers new ways to understand violence -- and talk about how to strike a balance between this form of expression and social responsibility" (p. 120). Close playing allows diegetic features like fantasy race and nondiegetic features like a menu of fantasy faces to select from to be described and critiqued in order to unpack racial or racist logics. Gee says, "Video games have an unmet potential to create complexity by letting people experience the world from different perspectives" (p. 151).

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