Metafictional literature and interactive storytelling: Interaction with Dramatic Laws in Michael Ende's Unendliche Geschichte
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Die Unendliche Geschichte is a novel about the importance of fantasy. While reading a book called “Die Unendliche Geschichte”, the main protagonist, Bastian, enters a world called Phantásien. His creative ability allows him to make stories and wishes that reshape Phantásien. The workings of Bastian‟s creative ability can be understood by studying the way in which certain events help to expose dramatic laws. Dramatic laws limit the possibilities and success of characters to make events dramatic. The concept is originally used to create interactive stories; systems or video games where users are part of, and creator of stories. Dramatic laws are used to make these stories dramatic. In this way, a user‟s options for interaction are limited. In Die Unendliche Geschichte, Bastian is less limited by dramatic laws than the characters who are part of Phantásien. Due to his creative ability, he is not limited by one character type and he is able to change the influence of dramatic laws. Creating stories is vital for the progression of his journey through Phantásien. However, these stories need substance in the form of a balance between good and evil. Characters without this balance are severely limited by dramatic laws in their behaviour and success. Bastian‟s new knowledge about story creation helps him to solve the problems in his own reality. Treating life as a story may help to see new possibilities, by switching between character types. The balance between good and evil in stories may also help to understand bad things in life. Through storytelling, Bastian is able to help himself and others to have a more meaningful life. This influence may be extended to the actual reader. The actual reader may just be another character in a book reading a book. In that sense, life may be an interactive story that changes under the influence of the human imagination.