Rereading and the SimCity Effect in Electronic Literature

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Rereading, the act of going back and reexperiencing a text, is often seen as one
possible measure of the quality of a literary text. However, what it means to
reread a work of electronic literature, particularly one that responds procedurally
to reader actions, is not clear (Mitchell and McGee, 2012). One particular
way that readers reread print literature is what Calinescu (1993) refers to as
reflective rereading, which involves “a meditative or critically inquisitive revisiting
of a text one has already read” (Calinescu, 1993, p. 277). In this paper we
argue that, in electronic literature, reflective rereading can involve examining
the surface of an interactive work which one has already read, with the aim
of gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of how the underlying system
functions and how this internal structure relates to the surface experience
of the work. We draw parallels between this form of reflective rereading and
Wardrip-Fruin’s “SimCity Effect”, which he describes as being present in “systems
that shape their surface experience to enable the audience to build up an
understanding of a relatively complex internal structure” (Wardrip-Fruin, 2009,
p. 13). This suggests a possible correspondence between works of electronic
literature that afford or encourage reflective rereading and those that exhibit
the SimCity effect.

(Source: author's abstract)

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Daniela Ørvik