E-Literature & Gaming-Relations

What is E-literature you may be asking yourself? Well a definition offered by the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) states electronic literature “refers to works with an important literary aspect that takes advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.” [1] However, it can be much more than that. Of course E-literature refers to your Kindle or reading a digital news article on the train on your iPad but it also offers new depths for stories to explore.

E-literature to me also revolves around new ways of showing a story. Be that through game-play elements such as [2] Pry (2016) allowing you to see into the mind of the protagonist ever step of the way and understand their motives and decisions vividly unlike the pages of a novel could express. It could also be like in [3] Journey (2012) where you are initially a mere wandering wayward vagabond learning small tidbits of the world as your explore a wasteland and find little pieces of information along the way that tell a story unlike any novel could express without words.

Stories are developing beyond the medium of pen and paper. Many mediums are looking towards creating video-stories such as in interactive Youtube videos such as Hell Pizza’s Zombie Attack. Videos like this craft  a story with some different outcomes depending on the viewer or reader. E-literature is a medium where you do not merely read and enjoy a novel but instead interact with it, explore it and absolutely become a part of the story yourself.

I’ve been a firm believer in anything being able to create a grandiose story when people come together to put it together. As a Dungeons & Dragons (I’m gonna get nerdy for a second, just let it happen!) player and long time Dungeon Master, I know that crafting a story, setting and world can take months of work to pull off. However, that world would go nowhere without the players to push the story forward. I understand that this is not entirely E-Literature as it is not online but it does connect people together to create a collaborative story. Together the players work to craft their story.

It might be a little irrelevant but Roll20 is an online place for D&D players to find each other and play online as well which, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of E-literature as you craft your own story online with other people, the possibilities of these tales are endless.

I hope this was an enjoyable read! Thank you for making it to the end!

Bibliography :

[1] Electronic Literature Organization – http://eliterature.org/

[2] Pry 2016 – http://prynovella.com/

[3] Thatgamecompany – Journey 2012

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E-Literature & Gaming-Relations

Visual Analysis of “Artemis Fowl”

As my final Digital Humanities assignment of this semester, I was tasked to analyse any publicly available text using some visualization tools such as Voyant 2.0. I chose to analyse Artemis Fowl (2001, E.Colfer) in this way as it was the first book I read as child and nostalgia drew me back to it. There will be spoilers to the plot of this book beyond this point! Consider yourself warned should you wish to delve further.

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So, just what does this jumble of text tell us? At first glimpse it looks pretty meaningless, like a kid just scribbled all over his parents’ walls. However, we can see all the main (and even most of the side characters) names appear in this block of words.

First, we have our main characters:

-Artemis Fowl (His name appears 748 times in total): Our protagonist, the boy genius who kidnaps our second main character, Holly and holds her at ransom.
-Captain Holly (Her name appears 429 times): A fairy and captain to the armies of fairies who live just below our feet.
-Commander Julius Root (His name appears 269 times): Commander of the fairy armies, his mission is to save Holly from Artemis.
-Butler (His name appears 229 times): Artemis’ most loyal and deadly servant, military-trained man but with a soft side for his younger sister.

and our secondary cast:

-Foaly (184 appearances): A centaur who is an expert in all things computing, he is allied with Commander Root.
-Mulch (149 appearances): A convicted criminal Dwarf with a nack for burrowing into places no one else can get to. He is reluctantly recruited by Root when it looks like he may be Holly’s only hope of escape.
-Juliet (84 appearances): Butler’s sister who he cares about above all else, even Artemis.

Now, using Voyant’s Trend tool, we are able to see when and where each character is mentioned in the story. This* is a link to a trend page of voyant which compares the frequency of characters appearing in the story. We can see from it, Artemis is always a character in focus, being the protagonist. However, Holly spikes in importance at chapter two and then is pushed to the side in a way by chapter four while other characters see more of the spotlight. Comparing mentions of characters in this way can show their importance to the story line at that moment (such as Commander Root receiving no mention in chapter one, due to this chapter primarily focusing on the kidnapping of Holly.)

Other words being used such as “Fairy”, “Troll” and even “Human” to an extent in context show us a little of the world in which Artemis Fowl resides. It is a fantasy world where ages ago, humans evolved and pushed fairies (who were weaker bodied but technologically superior) under the Earth, where they stayed and were forgotten about except in myths. Artemis believed in these myths and lures Holly – which is where the story begins, however it shows that in the ancient past of this world humans and other mythical creatures were at war, setting up a resentment of one another bringing racism into the novel as a theme (which is developed on in further installments of the series).

It also allows Colfer to write about fantastical creatures such as Dwarves with the power to burrow miles into the Earth, Trolls – mindless but powerful and dangerous creatures which dwell beneath our feet and so much more which gives this series a real flavour of that “fantastical but almost believeable world” one can truly immerse themselves in.

So, in answering, Voyant allows us to quickly glimpse and assemble the image of an entire book, it’s characters, main themes, genre and even the frequency of characters appearing in one amazing tool. It is a fantastic way to covert raw data into visual text and particularly great at turning novels and texts into one “bite-sized” chunk.

*Link to trending voyant page : http://voyant-tools.org/?corpus=d7d717b6b78e14ed7a0d3f081d420657&query=artemis&query=holly&query=root&withDistributions=raw&docId=799701add56d38cc81a7f6df42c2b527&mode=document&view=Trends

Bibilography:

Eoin Colfer,  Artemis Fowl (2001),  Viking Press

Visual Analysis of “Artemis Fowl”

On the topic of the Evolution of Storytelling

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So, recently my Digital Humanities class did a Twessay (a Twitter essay) on the evolution of storytelling in digital media. The results of our responses can be found here.

And what did I have to say on the topic? Well I said “Storytelling is changing in our digital revolution, everything is online and it opens new avenues of creativity to us all.” (a) Even after all my research has been done, I mostly stand by what I said here. Mostly I now disagree on that “everything is online” that is very much untrue, storytelling is still very much alive offline too. However, I stand that the digital medium has creative new ways for us to share our stories and expand the types of stories we can experience.

Just look at the very successful web comic, Homestuck (by Andrew Hussie) can help more readers finish your story (currently Homestuck is 6,000 pages long and unfinished). This web comic truly is a success when you look at it’s massive fan following and the kickstarter for a Homestuck Game reaching over $2 million in funding. It’s safe to say that the inclusion of digital media (such as videos, interactive games, changeable music) brought a new edge to the web comic style and was the main attraction that spear headed it’s popularity compared to the regular web comics which do not allow fans to so directly interact with the characters.

From Sean Hegarty’s Twessay “Storytelling has evolved in a certain way that it still holds the old meanings, but has evolved mostly in accessibility”. (b) This is something I agree with fully, I mean what is storytelling? Storytelling is the interactive art of using words and actions to reveal the elements and images of a story while encouraging the listener’s imagination [1].

This fact will never change about storytelling, the goal, to put vivid imagery and interesting characters into a listener or reader’s mind will always be the primary goal of storytelling but the mediums we can achieve this goal have now changed and we have more opportunities than ever. Even when we look at more recent novels, we see ways of interactivity being introduced such as in S [2] a book which split by both a section in the book which is a novel called “The Ship of Theseus” written by an unknown author and another part of the book are the hand-written notes capturing the conversations of two college students attempting to discover who the true author is, it is up to the reader how to get through S and no two people will reach the conclusion the same way. While it is a very unique concept as of right now, I would not be shocked to find more clones of this idea in the not so distant future!

Finally, we have this little gem from Luke Crowley, “People interact with stories & change them through new types of games;this interactive medium is the evolution of storytelling” (c) In video games in particular, we can be our own character (or another protagonist) and the actions we take shape the world around us. A recent example of this being executed beautifully is Until Dawn [3] where any little decision you make can literally be the difference between life and death for some characters. This is known as the Butterfly Effect system and is exclusively used in video game medium as it is irreplicable with other medium.  (it even comes with an autosave function so if you want to undo your choice later, well too bad!).

Thank you all for reading my article, perhaps I was able to introduce you to a new way that digital medium is changing storytelling around you? If so, leave a comment below! Until next time, this stream is going offline.

References :
Twessays Referenced :
Andrew Douglas (a), Sean Hegarty (b), Luke Crowley (c)

[1] What is Storytelling?http://www.storynet.org/resources/whatisstorytelling.html
[2] S (2013) – Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams
[3] Until Dawn (2015) – Supermassive Games

 

On the topic of the Evolution of Storytelling