Narrative and the Split Condition of Digital Textuality

Critical Writing
Publication Type: 
Language: 
Year: 
2005
Page Numbers: 
257-281
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Abstract (in English): 

With computer games and avant-garde literary experiments, digital textuality has conquered
both mass audiences and academic readers interested in theorizing digital art, but
it has not yet reached the middle of the cultural spectrum, namely the educated public
who reads primarily for pleasure, but is capable of artistic discrimination. This essay
explores the possibility of curing this split condition by strengthening the narrativity of
digital texts. After examining the conception of narrative that prevails at both ends of the
spectrum, I investigate three types of interactive narrative that have been able to reach
beyond the traditional audience of computer games and experimental literature: embedded
stories, represented by Myst and mystery-solving games, emergent stories, represented
by The Sims, and texts with a somewhat prescripted, but variable story, represented
by Façade, Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern’s project in interactive drama. For each type
of text, I suggest how to make the structure more appealing to a reader who engages
with the text out of narrative interest, and is more interested in paidia—free play—than
in ludus—playing by strict rules for the sake of winning or losing.

(Source: Author's abstract)

Note: published in Dichtung Digital prior to book publication.

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Helene Helgeland