Narrative Time in Computer Games - Point-by-Point

Karin Wenz, Assistant Professor of English, University of Kassel

With digital media we find a new time-category, which is not described in Genette's scheme. This new category can be described as point-by-point. Myst allows its players to change into a jumping mode and to return to places where they have already been. A mouse-click will transport the player to the place where he or she wants to return to, without needing more time than a click will need. Surely, this is ellipsis, the term Genette uses as one example of the time-category duration. But this ellipsis has to be seen as the relationship between one event and its repetition and not as the relationship between one event and the whole narrative and therefore it has to be seen as distinct from Genette's description. The construct of narrative time as chronology is inseparably bound to the medium of the printed book. Time seems to float in narratives. From a beginning over different time-marks to an end. Intervals are created within which time is developing. Time in a digital medium is occasional and unforeseeable. Time, as well as space, is condensed in away, which allows for multiple perspectives. These lead to a multiplication of narratives, all embedded in the boundaries of the given space.