DISCLAIMER

This blog post is in Japanese, so when I used the title: ‘Use google translate’, I meant it, so please do! I will update this blog post wednesday morning with the english version of the blog post. I thought it would be fun to see how many people will be able to understand and discuss this blog post in class. This is an experiment (just curious as to what will happen), but there is a serious blog post underneath, so give it a read and I hope you like it!

物語消費論とデジタルメディアの間の繋がり

 先週は、データベース消費論についてのブログ投稿を書いた。そこで、「データベース消費論を考察したので、今回は物語消費論を考察しよ」と思った。それに、私が先週コロッサル・ケーブ・アドベンチャーというゲームをプレイしたことにも繋がりがある。一貫性のために、先週のブログ投稿の形式を保つつもりだ。それでは、そろそろ今日のトピックに入ろうか。

期限と定義

物語消費論とは何だろう?どこから来たの?求めているものはなんだろう?

 信じられないかもしれないが、物語消費論はデータベース消費論の前に現れた理論だ(事例列の話をできかったのは私が悪い)。物語消費論は、東広紀氏がデータベース消費論を発表する10年前に、大塚英志氏が発表した。でも、二人が目的は同じだった。日本のオタク(定義は、以前のブログ投稿に書いてあるので、それを参照してください)の消費者行動を説明することが目的だった。
だが、二人の異なっていた。これをできるだけ簡単な言葉で説明するために、もういちど藍田美豊の言葉を借りる:

大塚英志は、誰もが物語を語りたいと述べているが、材料を持っていない一般人には物語を語ることは非常に難しい。人々は、すでに準備された物語の欠片(小さな物語)を集め、消費することとその欠片を合わせて大きな物語にすることを通じて物語を語る欲求を満たす。

 例えば、TCG(トレーディングカードゲーム)を見てみよう。TCGは大体いつもストーリーがある。そのストーリー、つまり大きな物語をアクセスして消費するために、プレイヤーは自分のカードにあるフレーバーテキスト、つまり小さな物語を消費しなければならない。小さな物語をたくさん消費した後、パズルを解けたと同じように、プレイヤーは大きな物語にアクセスできるようになる。

デジタルメディアに関する物語消費論

 次に、デジタルメディア、特にゲームに見える物語消費を、物語消費論を使いながら、見てみよう。
 私が分かりやすいと思う例の一つは、(テレビやネット上の)シリーズだ。一つのエピソードを見ることで、小さな物語しか消費しないけど、シリーズ全体を見ると、大きな物語にアクセスでる。クリフハンガーなどは、次は何が起こるかと考えるように、つまり大きな物語が知りたくなるように使われている。一気に大きな物語を見せることよりも、小さな物語を使って大きな物語を少しずつ作る傾向だ。
 また、ゲームやゲームフランチャイズにも物語消費論が使える(後者は、上記で説明したシリーズのような傾向がある)。たとえば、コロッサル・ケーブ・アドベンチャーというゲームはあまりプレイヤーに情報を与えない。プレイヤーがもらっているのは、周りの状態を説明する小さなテキスト(小さな物語)だけだ。大きな物語にアクセスできるために、つまりプレイヤーが洞窟を分かりつくすためには、多くの小さな情報を暗記、つまり消費する必要がある。

 さらに例を挙げることができるけど、この程度の説明で皆さんはもうわかると思う。私たちはデジタルメディアをどのように消費するかという質問に皆さんが興味を持つようになったのなら、嬉しい。読んでくれてありがとう!

参考文献

 Aida Miho. “The Construction of Discourses on Otaku: The History of Subcultures from 1983 to 2005.” In Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons, ed. Patrick W. Galbraith, 105-128. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.
 Ootsuka, Eiji, and Steinberg, Marc. “World and Variation: The Reproduction and Consumption of Narrative.” Mechademia 5 (2010), 99-116.

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The connection between digital media and the Narrative consumption theory

So last week I made a blog post about Database consumption theory. So I thought to myself: ‘since I already discussed the Database consumption theory, I might as well discuss the Narrative Consumption theory’. Plus, it coincided wonderfully with the Colossal Cave Adventure game I played the past week. I will keep the format from last week’s blog post, for the sake of consistency. So let’s jump into today’s topic without any further delay.

Origins and Definitions

So what is this Narrative consumption thingy? Where did it come from? What does it want?

Believe it or not, but the Narrative consumption theory is the predecessor to the Database consumption theory (apologies for not keeping things chronological). The narrative consumption theory was established by Ōtsuka Eiji (大塚英志) 10 years before Hiroki Azuma (東 浩紀) presented his Database consumption theory. What they aspire to is still the same, however: to explain the consumerist behaviours of the Japanese otaku (see my pervious blog post for a definition).
Their approach was very different, however. To put this in the most simple terms possible, I will once again borrow the words of Aida Miho to explain the main principles of Ōtsuka:

Ōtsuka Eiji argues that everyone has the desire to narrate, but it is extremely difficult for ordinary people to tell a story without any material. People fulfill their desire to narrate by collecting narrative fragments that are already prepared (small narratives) and integrating them into a grand narrative that they access through consumption.

For example, let’s look at CCG’s (collectible card game). Most of these have a storyline, in other words: they have lore. In order to acces and consume that storyline, the grand narrative, players have to consume the flavor texts on the individual cards in their decks, the small narratives. After consuming enough small narratives, the pieces of the puzzle will click together and a player will be able to access the grand narrative.

Narrative consumption in the digital space

Now let’s look at digital media and especially videogames, to see how we can use this theory to understand the consumption of these media.
One obvious example, to me at least, are series (either on Netflix, YouTube or any other platform). By only watching single episodes you are only consuming a small narrative, but after watching the entire series you can access the grand narrative. Things like cliffhangers and the like all work to make you want to know what comes next, i.e. what the grand narrative is. They are using small narratives to construct a grand narrative, instead of creating a single multi-hour film to deliver a grand narrative in one go.
We also see this to great effect in videogames and videogame franchises (the latter here acts like the series I detailed above). The game Colossal Cave Adventure, for example, gives the player very little information at any moment. All the player has to work with are small pieces of text (small narratives) describing his surroundings. In order to access the grand narrative, i.e. to fully get to know (and conquer) the cave we are exploring, we have to consume many small pieces of information.

These are all small examples and I could give many more, but I think I have made my point. I hope I challenged your way of thinking about how we consume digital media. Cheers!

Source materials

 Aida Miho. “The Construction of Discourses on Otaku: The History of Subcultures from 1983 to 2005.” In Debating Otaku in Contemporary Japan: Historical Perspectives and New Horizons, ed. Patrick W. Galbraith, 105-128. London: Bloomsbury, 2016.
 Ootsuka, Eiji, and Steinberg, Marc. “World and Variation: The Reproduction and Consumption of Narrative.” Mechademia 5 (2010), 99-116.

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1 Comment

  • Philipp26897
    Posted November 13, 2019 at 1:07 pm 0Likes

    hey, great blog! First, I would not understand a single word without google translate. It sounds so normal to us to use google translate, but I think it is still fascinating.
    Second, I think the narrative consumption theory has a great impact on the phenomenon “binge watching”. Like you mentioned; small narratives don`t offer us the whole story but we want to understand the whole, and series don`t give us the grand narrative at once. In order to understand the grand narrative, we start binge watching to get to the final episode. In addition, the immediate access to all of the episodes make it even more likely to start binge watching.
    I think its a great idea to make people keep watching series or keep playing video games. It makes it very attractive.

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