|. . . Marc Laidlaw|
|. . . 2002-09-08|
"Go on, our glory, go; know better fates."
The last time I saw Marc Laidlaw was when he worked at the law office and I worked at -- jeez, was it Aeneid? ("It's the name of a Greek god," explained the publicist in the neighboring cubicle.) No, it was earlier, because it was around the same time he said, "weird writers form mutual admiration societies in which we can sit around and admire each other's handicaps." During that lunch, though, Laidlaw seemed more interested in the games company he'd covered for Wired and the game he was novelizing.
Yesterday, I caught up with what he's been doing for the past five years:
He spotted a promising path and took it.
Which just sounds like good sense, or a chapter from Everything I Need to Know I Learned in First-Person Shooters. But good sense is a rare thing and few its acolytes.
An art form alive enough to make a living at, rather than one reliant on the sacrifices and squabbles of role-playing volunteers; too new, wet, squirming, and squalling to attract serious critical notice.... Aside from any practical considerations, such a path must hold a special glow for any historian of comics, or pop music, or movies, or pulp genres, such as fiction.
Myself, I'm too much a natural-born critic to join him on it -- as I've had frequent occasion to admit, we only join a party after it ends -- but I'm enough of a historian to appreciate the glow. And I'm heartened by what Laidlaw wants to bring over from his last art form: "mood, character, dramatic rhythm and pacing"; -- and by what he doesn't: "For me, the game design process is already granular enough. I don't want to make plot one of those elements."
'Cause it's not like narrative is a precious waif to be coddled on its sickbed: narrative is something we can't escape. And whenever I've been promised ambitious storytelling in hypertext or interactive multimedia or dynamic websites, whether by a heartwarming NPRish family chronicler or by a pin-cushioned anorexic art-school outlaw, it's always been something cohered only by triteness, like some self-congratulatory version of Stars on 45.
Although two or three years old, this is the cheeriest news I've heard about anyone for a while, so I thought I'd pass it along.
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