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I think presentation is a huge factor. Take EDoc for example; I think the presentation encouraged a sense of 'anything could be a clue', but people wouldn't be disappointed if some curiosity they had turned out to be a dead end, because they knew it was already about _finding_ the lead, not _following_ the lead. Whereas a website with lots of graphical quality and fillers in a game that's plot intensive rather than puzzle intensive might not evoke that sense of puzzles hiding in the frilly edges in the first place. Players may be tuned to following rather than finding. I agree that a lot of the issue is player-made, but PMs can also choose how the content is presented and give a sort of nudge from the get-go as to what style of 'gameplay' (for lack of a better term) could be expected from the players. The moment a PM first puts a hidden message in the HTML source of a website for a company, presuming no precedent has already been set, the players will start tearing the site apart looking for more messages. I think it's more than even a spotlight on the gun... if your house has a collection of guns displayed on the walls, but you shine the spotlight on one of them, the audience will likely take the bait as a hint and go looking for the rest of the guns too.
Toggle Commented Oct 7, 2010 on The Weight Paradox at Deus Ex Machinatio
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Loving this analogy :) But yeah, I think strictly speaking the spirit of Chekhov's Gun is still right; but in today's culture, the landscape of storytelling is changing (or rather expanding - there'll always be a place for Chekov's Gun), quickly. I wonder how Schrodinger's Cat could play into this analogy... if the writer never fires the gun, how do you know if it was ever loaded? :)
Interesting! I think another benefit, expanding on the thought of the _writer_ coming back to make use of unused elements in a future story, may be that unanswered questions leave room for the audience, for fans to fantasize about, to create their own stories... A lot of the time fan-fiction is written based on questions fans *want* to have answered, but which aren't dealt with in the primary canon. They often seek to further explore themes and people and places that weren't touched, or were left with an unsatisfying conclusion. In a sense, if done carefully, shelving Chekhov's Gun for a while _may_ indirectly be a way to foster a longer lasting fan community. Presuming of course they like the story/universe enough that's already been created :) If this supposedly special gun is never fired, and the fans love the storyworld anyway, give it a short time and you'll probably see a fan writer produce their own spin-off story, all about that mysterious gun :)
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