An interesting topic that is being discussed in the field of digital literature is the question of whether video games are included under the digital literature umbrella. Dr. Alistair Brown, Durham University, presents an interesting viewpoint,
“…Actually, I think it is pretty clear that video games are not literature…’ He goes on to say that instead of asking if video games are literature, that one should instead ask if players of games are approaching video games like literature. David Golumbia wrote the article “Games without Play’ for the journal “New Literary History’ . The title of the journal itself indicates that video games fall under the umbrella of literature. The debate centers around people questioning whether if a video game has a storyline, or plot, or can be interpreted as conveying a story, automatically categorizes it as literature or not. Two viewpoints to consider are, analyzing the video game itself, or analyzing the way players approach it.
Notable People and Works:
There are a number of notable authors, critics, and works associated with electronic literature, including reviewers such as David Golumbia and Espen J. Aarseth. Michael Joyce’s Afternoon, a story, is known as the first hypertext fiction, although this has been disputed, and Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden is another notable work of electronic literature.
Another groundbreaking new addition to the field of electronic literature is a fascinating hybrid of video, text and audio developed specifically for smart phones. Pry, a Novella, is an iOS app made in 2014 by Danny Cannizzaro and Samatha Gorman, also known as Tender Claws.
Other particularly interesting and noteworthy pieces of digital literature are Nightingale’s Playground by Andy Campbell and Judi Alston. This interactive fiction is a link between the original concept of text based interactive fiction and gaming as we know it now.
Shelly Jackson’s My Body, a Wunderkamer uses HTML Hypertext as an innovative way for the reader to explore her memories and thoughts by clicking on various parts of her body displayed in woodcut images
Furthermore Shelley Jackon’s ‘Patchwork Girl’ is described as “an electronic fiction that manages to be at once highly original and intensely parasitic on its print predecessors.” Based off ‘Frankenstein’s Monster’ by Mary Shelley, it gives the story a feminine twist with both the protagonist and frankentein’s monster now being female. Throughout the hypertext, Jackson weaves together fragments of nodes in resemblance to the stitching together of frankenstein’s monster’s limbs.
Gone Home, published by Fullbright, further develops the ability for video games to be considered part of literature. Fully taking advantage of the unique abilities video games offer, Gone Home compellingly conveys a story in a manner that traditional text isn’t capable of. The player is given the role of a 21 year old girl who has returned home after a year abroad. Upon her return, she discovers her family is gone, and a suspicious note on the door. The player must put together the storyline with clues from picking up and examining objects in the house.
A unique feature to keep in consideration about electronic literature is that due to the constant advancement of technology, many pieces of electronic literature become obsolete.
Golumbia, David. Games Without Play. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009. https://diglit.community.uaf.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/511/2015/01/Games_without_Play.pdf
Brown, Alistair, Dr. “Guest Blog: Are Video Games Literature?” Interesting Literature. N.p., 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. https://interestingliterature.com/2013/08/20/guest-blog-are-video-games-literature/
Reflection: Elimination of the word I, as well as personal bias, is due to the fact Wikipedia is read like an encyclopedia. I decided to add a paragraph discussing Golumbia’s points about video games and literature because in class, we’ve had quite a few conversations covering that topic, and Wikipedia barely even mentioned it. When I looked up literature in Wikipedia, there were quite a few sub genres elaborated on including drama, prose and essays. Electronic literature also merits sub genres as well. I also thought that the examples given of notable people and works is lacking, and that Gone Home, Pry, and My Body deserved a mention. Since Wikipedia is used as an academic source, the tone and context of the writing was much more formal and scholarly than if it was written for a personal blog. This manner of writing is much more familiar to me, and had many similarities to essays and the traditional manner of writing used in academic settings. As a conclusion to the Notable People and Works category, I thought it was relevant to add a sentence noting that unlike traditional books, electronic literature nature is to grow obsolete due to its constantly evolving technology.