So this is a thread that people can link back to when they are confused about diegetics, diegetical, diegesis etc.
Yes, this is a weird word.
But it’s easily explained by saying that it’s opposite to things like in real life, out of character etc.
Let’s say a game group is sitting in mom’s kitchen and they playing a game set in the magical realm of Gondor. The clock on the wall in mom’s kitchen says it’s eight PM. The time in the magical realm of Gondor is just at the crack of dawn, outside the bandit camp. The diegetical time is just at the crack of dawn, not eight PM.
Contrasted to “Dice”
Related concepts, sometimes conflated (including by me #SloppyAcademic2097
) are the Shared Imagined Space (the “SIS”) and the “Cloud”, the latter most prominently used in @lumpley
’s dice and cloud series
from ten years ago; which contrasted it with “dice”, a word that means not only dice but also character sheets, numbers, pencils, special abilities, hit points, stats etc.
Contrasted to mimesis
In classical theatre, and in literary criticism, diegesis (which, in that context, means “narrated stuff”) is contrasted to mimesis, which, in that context, means “shown stuff” — “mimicking” is based on the same word, it means imitation).
In many other media, including tabletop RPG and movies, this distinction has often fallen away and the distinction isn’t really being made (including by me #SloppyAcademic2097
The first time I heard the word “diegetical” it was in the context of “diegetical music is movie music that both the audience and the movie characters hear, maybe they have the radio on in the kitchen and dance to it; extradiegetical music is movie music that only the audience hear — subtle romantic notes as the two main leads first see each other”.
Arguably if people are LARPing out game scenes and showing
each other what they do, that’s mimesis rather than diegesis. So maybe that’s a distinction that will be brought back in the future but if you’re digging through old threads don’t worry about it, it’s all the same fuzzy fancy way of saying “in-game”.
Why not just say “in-game” then?
This is kind of a selfish reason but the first couple of times I was legit confused. I mistakenly though this: We are sitting around a game table in a game room and we are a game group; aren’t all of our activities, including mom’s wall clock, “in-game”? And, similarly, the “dice” stuff (see above) is definitely
part of the game activity but is still not necessarily diegetical.
So I needed a specific, dedicated word and the phrase from the sound track industry came to mind. (This was like decades ago.)
I later learned of the terms “cloud” and the “SIS” and sometimes use those words instead. Sorry about that.♥
Update about the term “SIS”
In the past, I’ve used the term SIS a lot for the diegesis, like, a lot
, and I can’t rellay go back and edit all those posts, but starting now, I’ll stop using it. Here’s where I went wrong.
I’ve learned (in this thread) that people are really hung up on the “Shared” part of the term SIS (Shared Imagined Space). Re-reading old Forge stuff, they’re not wrong. But, I’ll explain myself.
When I heard the word “Shared”, I thought of the Swedish word “gemensam”. Something you have together. Me and my sister can share a book even though I haven’t read all of it. Wiktionary says
- shared (not comparable)
- Used by multiple entities or for multiple purposes or in multiple ways. quotations
- (multiple entities): common, mutual
Now, I’m not
trying to do an “well, actually
, the dictionary says so-and-so, so that’s what you meant when you said shared”. Uh, no. If that’s not what they meant, it’s not what they meant. But… it’s what I
meant when using the word shared imagined space up until the last week or so.
In my view of the phrase “SIS”, I thought it meant “OK, we have this imagined space together. It’s shared by us. The red ball in the chest is part of this shared imagined space even though the chest hasn’t been opened so people don’t know that there’s a red ball in there.”
What some of the Forge nerds sometimes meant by “Shared” was specifically things that have been shared in sense four in this definition
, while I thought they meant sense two. Which to me with my background in semiotics, sense two would’ve made a hell of a lot more sense!
But in this sense-four “Shared Imagined Space”, the red ball is not part of the SIS because it hasn’t been told-about (“shared” sense four) even though it’s a relevant part of our common imagination (sense two).
Through these last few weeks of debate, I’ve, confusingly enough, gradually shifted my use of SIS over to the Forge “sense four” usage in order to contrast it with my own use of “diegesis” and “canon” and “gamestate” and/or whatever we’re calling it today since we apparently can’t call it SIS
because of this “sense-four-only usage”.