Here are all the works you can select for your close reading assignment, along with links to more information. Please sign up for a work to close read by Friday, 8/3 (the end of the first week of class). To sign up, add a comment to this page claiming a work. Please review the comments to make sure you’re not claiming something already claimed.
Your presentation should be a rehearsed 7-10 minutes, presenting a clear summary and analysis of the work in question. You may demo the work for part of your presentation if this helps us understand the piece, although make sure your total presentation including demo stays under 10 minutes. You may also use other presentation techniques such as slides, whiteboard, handouts, etc. The goal is to use your knowledge of the piece, gained from your close reading and research, to give the rest of us some idea, in a short time, of its unique qualities– not a plot summary or review, so much as an analysis of how, whether, and why the piece is interesting as a literary game. (And you may not think it is, which is fine— but tell us why.)
Specifically, your presentation should answer the following questions:
- How does this work “function” as an interactive story? I.e. is it linear or non-linear, how and in what way does the player interact with it, is it text-only or are there multimedia components, etc.
- How does the content (plot, setting, style etc) of the work relate to its interactivity? Would it have been equally effective as narrative in a non-interactive medium? If not, why not?
- What is the relationship of this piece to the author’s other work (if any)?
- Some of these works stretch the boundaries or definitions of what we might usefully call a literary game. How relevant is this piece to the other content of this class?
Week 1: Hypertext
Calligraphy(claimed by Stacey) (2010, Christine Love; HTML5; modern web browsers). Navigate the story by learning calligraphic brush strokes.
- Blueberries (2009, Susan Gibb; Tinderbox; web browser). “a brutal evocation of the significance of trust… it is wry and explores the link as a means of augmenting the element of surprise and coherence in fiction.”
- The Unknown (2002, Scott Rettberg, William Gillespie, Dirk Stratton, Frank Marquardt; HTML) “[T]he playful exuberance of this satire of the creative writing industry is there to be read in the novel itself, a sprawling, self- referential, and fictional discourse network… a light-hearted but critical parody of the culture of literary celebrity.”
Nightingale’s Playground(claimed by Sara) (2010, Andy Campbell and Judi Alston; various media including Flash, ebook, PC/Mac game). Creepy sci-fi/horror about the mystery surrounding a childhood friend.
- Life Flashes By (2010, Deirdra Kiai; Mac/PC game). “…a video game about success and failure in following one’s dreams, about finding love and losing it, and about feeling isolated and out of step with the rest of the world.”
- Marble Springs (Version 3.0, 2011, Deena Larsen; HTML/wikidot). “Come explore the lives of women in a small Colorado mining town from the mid 1800s when white men first swooped to the gold fields to the mid 1900s when wars took the final breath from the town.”
- Bee (2012, Emily Short; Varytale). “Sooner or later, you’re going to lose. Only one person wins the National Spelling Bee each year, so an elementary understanding of the odds means it almost certainly won’t be you.”
- Once Upon a Time (1993, Richard Lambert, Andrew Rilstone and James Wallis; card game). Card game about collaboratively telling a story. (Note: requires 3-6 players and purchase of game or borrow from instructor.)
Improviso(claimed by Scott) (2010, Jeff Orkin, Elson Soh, Andrew Grant et al; Mac or Windows application). A collaborative game where each player is given a role in a sci-fi B movie and the means to act it out. Requires a pair of players. Inanimate Alice(claimed by Cassidy) (2005–present, Kate Pullinger & Chris Joseph; Flash/multimedia). Tells the story of Alice and her imaginary digital friend Brad as she grows from a girl in a remote region of Northern China to a talented games designer. Dear Esther(claimed by Ian) (2008, Dan Pinchbeck; Half-Life 2 mod / 2012, Robert Briscoe, Dan Pinchbeck; Windows/Mac application). A wanderer on an abandoned island; narratives of its past and his own tied to the spaces he moves through. (Note: you can close read either the original mod, which requires Half-Life 2, or the 2012 remake, a standalone application, or both; either HL2 or a purchase on Steam is required.) The Stanley Parable(claimed by Dan) (2011, Cakebread; Half-Life 2 mod). A branching story about branching stories, with game choices about the nature of game choices. (Note: the Windows version requires the free Source SDK; the Mac version requires Half-Life 2.)