Limbo and the Edge of the Literary

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Abstract (in English): 

Limbo, released in 2010, is a puzzle platformer that features a player character who awakes in Limbo, on the edge of hell. He must traverse a world of bear traps, giant killer spiders, and spinning gears. As with any game, the player of Limbo will necessarily fail while solving the game’s puzzles; however, this game makes those failures especially painful. The player character is decapitated, impaled, and dismembered as the player attempts to solve each puzzle. The game’s monochromatic artwork, its vague storyline, and these gruesome deaths meant that Limbo, predictably, found its way into various “games as art” conversations. However, this presentation asks whether Limbo can serve as a different kind of boundary object. Given its complete lack of text and its minimalist approach to storytelling, what is the status of Limbo as a literary object? Given Katherine Hayles’ arguments that the field of electronic literature is best served by expanding its perspective to the “electronic literary” and Noah Wardrip-Fruin’s research on how both games and digital storytelling can be examined in terms of their expressive processes, it is relatively uncontroversial to consider Limbo in the theoretical context of electronic literature. However, what would such an approach yield? What are the literary traits of such a game, and how might we analyze such traits while ensuring that the game’s procedural expressions and computational expressions are given their due? In short, how might we consider Limbo as having one foot in each world, videogames and the electronic literary, and what would such a consideration provide scholars in electronic literature and game studies?

(Source: Author's abstract at ELO 2013 conference site: )


Chercher le texte | questions after Patrick JAGODA  , Jim BROWN, Stephanie BOLUK, Patrick LEMIEUX

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Stig Andreassen