Hyperworks: On Digital Literature and Computer Games

Critical Writing
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2004
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9789185178384
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This study investigates the effects of digitization on literature and literary culture with focus on works of literary fiction and other kinds of works inspired by such works. The concept of "hyperworks" refers to works intended to be navigated multisequentially, i.e. the users create their own paths through the work by making choices. The three articles that make up the dissertation include analyses of individual works as well as discussions of theoretical models and concepts. The study combines perspectives from several theoretical traditions: narratology, hypertext theory, ludology (i.e. game studies), sociology of literature, textual criticism, media theory, and new media studies. This study investigates the effects of digitization on literature and literary culture with focus on works of literary fiction and other kinds of works inspired by such works. The concept of “hyperworks” refers to works intended to be navigated multisequentially, i.e. the users create their own paths through the work by making choices. The three articles that make up the dissertation include analyses of individual works as well as discussions of theoretical models and concepts. The study combines perspectives from several theoretical traditions: narratology, hypertext theory, ludology (i.e., game studies), sociology of literature, textual criticism, media theory, and new media studies. The first article examines narrative technique and aspects of ergodicity in the digital hyperwork afternoon, a story (1997) by Michael Joyce. The main focus is on an analysis of the work’s structural organization and narrative technique. The second article proposes a theoretical framework for the analysis of texts and works in different media, especially focusing on the media structure (i.e. linking, navigation, storage, presentation, etc.) The third article analyzes and describes the ludolization, i.e., transposition into game form, of J. K. Rowling’s novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997). The study is a comparative analysis of the PC version of the computer game Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) and the original novel, and discusses the media structure and the narrative/ludic structure of the two works. The concepts of ergodicity, cybertext, and content space are especially central to the study. Among the new concepts introduced are omnidiscourse, omnistory, performed discourse, performed story, lateral structure, hyperliterary competence, core ludic sequence, and performed ludic sequence. Also, a method for the analysis and description of links, i.e. a linkology, is presented along with new terms such as linkarium, ancoral text, adlink, and exlink.

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Jill Walker Rettberg