Interactive Fiction vs. Electronic Literature

While I was browsing through the electronic literature websites it was hard for me to understand or attempt to make sense of the games when at every angle I was being distracted by videos, moving text, and the games themselves. Though I realize that the websites are considered to be electronic literature, I question whether the creator’s approach to embedding meaning within a game is effective. I came into each website with the idea that there is a significant meaning behind the games, but what ended up happening was that I became so involved in continuing each level and ending the game that I forgot that there was even a storyline in the first place. Looking back at Interactive Fiction, I thought that the games were extremely frustrating and somewhat dull, but at least I had an idea of the characters and of where the plot was heading whereas with such websites as “Game, Game, Game, Again Game”, and “I Made This. You Play This. We Are Enemies”, I was unsure of their point. Instead, I was overwhelmed with all the graphics and videos that the websites contain.

The closest website that I came to understanding is “This Is How You Will Die”, I tried to understand the poems in “Taroko Gorge and its remixes”, but the phrases passed by so rapidly that I was unable to make sense of the poems. It also did not help that I could not scroll back to the top of each individual poem. To a certain extent, I also encountered the same problem with the website “Weather Visualizer”. Every time I selected the “Prose: Poetics” tab, I found myself becoming so distracted by the sounds and background of the page that I was unable to focus on the narrative.

I feel as though the creators of these websites do not want for their viewers (players) to understand the significance behind their games which could explain why they place more emphasis on the graphics and sounds rather than on the main storyline. In the game “I Made This. You Play This. We Are Enemies” the fourth direction writes “stop trying to “get it” – the creator, himself, throughout the game also tells you to not try to make sense of the game.

Interestingly, after I finished a certain level in “I Made This. You Play This. We are Enemies” and “Game, Game, Game, Again Game”, I was told to e-mail the creator telling him that I reached that particular level which lead me to believe that the creators want you to e-mail them after you reach a certain level because you were not intended to get up to that point. The intention of the creators is for you to give up before reaching that point, therefore, preventing you from ever reaching the last level and discovering the underlying storyline of the game. I also noticed that with each level the game becomes harder, as I expected; once again the creator does this to prevent their players from reaching the end of the game.

The graphics combined with videos and sounds, more in respect to the games such as “I Made This. You Play This. We Are Enemies”, “Evidence of Everything Exploding”, and “Game, Game, Game, Again Game”, brings me to an ultimate conclusion – where is the distinction drawn between pure game and electronic literature? Each video game has a storyline and significance behind it, therefore, what sets apart the Tales game franchise from electronic literature? As I mentioned in my Interactive Fiction blog, I am not a gamer which might explain my difficulty in differentiating the two, but from an outside perspective while I was playing “Evidence of Everything Exploding”, I cannot distinguish the differences between electronic literature websites from pure games. Pure meaning a game that was intended to solely be a game and not electronic literature.

The only website that I felt could truly be categorized as electronic literature is “Taroko Gorge and its remixes, while the other four websites fall somewhere between pure game, electronic literature, and indescribable. The games that I mentioned above assert to the statement that was made by Richard Bartle in the documentary “Get Lamp” – “text will always be inferior to graphics.” After having played these games, I have a new found appreciation for Interactive Fiction because it is more direct and consequently easier to understand. Electronic literature is scattered minded and distracting with its graphics, videos and sounds, therefore, making it easier to become lost within the game that is on the surface – neglecting its meaning.

One thought on “Interactive Fiction vs. Electronic Literature”

  1. Well observed, i think exactly the same. Instead of dueling with the readers, the authors should focus much more on the infinitude of means that the web and the hypertext allows to provide reacher content and experience…

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