Face It, Tiger, You Just Hit the Jackpot: Reading and Playing Cadre’s Varicella

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

ABSTRACT: We consider a specific character, Princess Charlotte, in the 1999 interactive fiction work Varicella by Adam Cadre. To appreciate and solve this work, the interactor must both interpret the texts that result (as a literary reader does) and also operate the cybertextual machine of the program, acting as a game player and trying to understand the system of Varicella’s simulated world. We offer a close reading focusing on Charlotte, examining the functions she performs in the potential narratives and in the game. Through this example, we find that in interactive fiction — and we believe in other new media forms with similar goals — works must succeed as literature and as game at once to be effective. We argue that a fruitful critical perspective must consider both of these aspects in a way that goes beyond simple dichotomies or hierarchies.

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Jill Walker Rettberg