Capstone 1, David Woo

Interactivity in Electronic Literature.

Electronic literature is defined as any sort of literature that can be accessed through a computer or some other type of electronic device. Programers and writers are able to utilize the different capabilities of computers and other software. As a result authors are able to incorporate more interactivity into their pieces in order to increase engagement as well as making a piece more appealing.

New authors in the electronic world are now able to incorporate interactivity into their work in a number of different ways. Websites such as Text Adventures have been established to house a sub-genre of e-literature known as “Interactive Fiction.’ These incorporate a type of interactivity similar to a “Choose your own adventure‘ book, where a reader has the freedom to navigate through the story anyway he/she chooses with the use of hyperlinks.

A novella known as “Pry‘ that was released in 2014 has recently popularized the usage of more videos and sounds as a  form of interactivity, where the reader and/or player uncovers a series of these videos as well as text and audio in order to piece together a story. Other notable electronic literature pieces with different forms of interactivity include Tailspin (2008) and Galatea (2000).

Interactivity in Games

Some people argue that games are merely just literature with an emphasis on the interactivity. Espen Aarseth supports this with the comparison of ergodic literature, which is “Open, dynamic texts… which the reader must perform specific actions to generate a literary sequence.’ Aarseth argues that texts such as these are no different than many adventure based video games.

Other critics argue that interactivity does not make the telling of a story literature. David Golumbia emphasizes that today the word “play’ has become very twisted. In his essay, “Games without Play,’ vividly analyzes popular games such as World of War Craft and Halo. These games incorporate adventure as well as interactivity, but it is hard to classify them as literature due to their un-reciprocrative nature and a limited story base.

Although there are some disputes over the classification of video games in the electronic literature world, there are some notable works that incorporate aspects of interactivity and literature such as Zork (1977) and Final Fantasy (1987-2014)– Which possess complex story lines and are not so repetitive.

Revision: (Revisions are in bold and I removed everything that had to do with “e-books”)

History of Electronic Literature

     A gradual transition into the digital world beginning with new advancements in technology to makes things more efficient and accessible. This is comparable to the release of the printing press in the fourteen hundreds, as people did not seriously consider it a major contributor to literature at first. In the nineteen sixties and seventies, the creation of the personal computer allowed people to begin expanding literature into the electronic realm.

Online diaries which were the precursor of blogging began in approximately 1994 with journalists keeping accounts of their personal lives.[6] Online diaries transitioned into what is the complex world of blogging today. On May 15, 1999 the short form, “blog,” was first used by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase “we blog” in the sidebar of his blog. Shortly after, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used “blog” as both a noun and verb (“to blog,” meaning “to edit one’s weblog or to post to one’s weblog”) and devised the term “blogger” in connection with Pyra Labs’ Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.

     Blogging popularized the use of the internet to share digital works, and now digital literature has expanded to include almost every form of literature possible ranging from texts that have been created as digital files and text that has been written completely as a digital literature source with no print source.


Aarseth, Espen J. “Cybertext.” Cybertext. John Hopkins University Press, n.d. Web. 6 Mar. 2015.

Golumbia, David. “Games without Play.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web. 6 Mar. 2015

“Electronic Literature: What Is It?” Electronic Literature: What Is It? N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Mar. 2015.



In my main section on Interactivity, the biggest choice I made was to focus on interactivity itself. This is because almost every example we looked over in class included some sort of interactivity. In my opinion it is one of the fundamental parts of electronic literature that separates it from traditional literature. I was hoping that this would help someone else, who doesn’t know what exactly electronic literature is, differentiate between electronic and traditional literature. The rhetorical situation influenced this choice because I was hoping to communicate my ideas to someone who possibly doesn’t have the experience that I do with Electronic literature. I made care not to overcomplicate the sections, and I tried to avoid examples that were too specific.

On a more micro-level, one choice I made was to present an argument on both sides of the “Are video games literature debate.’ I have started to think that most video games should not be considered literature at all, but I thought it would be important to shed light on both sides. For one, it is supposed to be an encyclopedia and therefore, unbiased. On the other hand I also thought that both sides of the argument were relevant in explaining interactivity, electronic literature, and video games. I also wanted to provide a clearer “line’ as to what is and isn’t literature, as compared to most pieces we have read, where they don’t really touch on that– they have given more of a broad definition. I guess I was just trying to narrow it down a little bit to provide a clearer view for a reader who is unfamiliar with the subject. When it comes to the rhetorical situation, I believe that this focuses more on the reader-writer relationship, as I am trying to communicate my idea of where video games stand when it comes to e-literature and interactivity through writing.

In the history section, I chose delete every section that talked about e-books. The only time an e-book should be considered e-literature is when it was written solely on an electronic device solely for electronic device, and the development of tablets and stuff has nothing to do with the development of digital literature. I found completely irrelevant to even mention e-books in the history section… maybe they need their own section (or page).

All of these choices are related because I made them to help communicate my ideas and understanding of the topic to a generalized audience. They all helped me stay on topic and avoid biased and opinions.

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