AustLit logo
Issue Details: First known date: 2018... no. 49 April 2018 of TEXT Special Issue est. 2000 TEXT Special Issue Website Series
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This special issue of TEXT considers the new forms of writers and writing practices that are emerging in our digital age, paying specific attention to the various convergences of writing practices with cultures of gaming.' (Source : Introduction)

Contents

* Contents derived from the 2018 version. Please note that other versions/publications may contain different contents. See the Publication Details.
Introduction : Writing and Gaming, Ross Watkins , Maria Takolander , single work criticism

'We have entered the age of gaming and gamification, and creative writing – as both a cultural practice and a discipline of study – is being drawn into this phase of digital culture. Despite the bookish backlash noted by Adam Hammond in Literature in the digital age (2016), major publishers have begun to experiment with interactive digital narratives. Penguin’s We tell stories (2008) was a first attempt by a major publisher to future-proof its business through a merging of gaming principles and creative writing – an attempt more recently repeated by Hachette’s New star soccer story ‘game book’ (2016). In ‘The shifting author-reader dynamic’, R. Lyle Skains diagnoses such experiments in relation to the consumer reality: ‘The next generation of readers is currently in their teens, spending far more attention, time, and money on digital platforms such as gaming and internet interactions than they do in any other entertainment genre’ (2010: 96). However, while literature is being challenged to adapt in a digital age increasingly dominated by gamers, the traffic is not just one-way. Games are also changing in response to literary or artistic imperatives, as writers are conscripted into development teams in an increasingly competitive games industry, and as scholars focus their attention on games as artefacts of cultural interest. While some early game scholars aggressively opposed the ludic culture of gaming to the readerly culture of literature, and while the agency of players (as opposed to the assumed passivity of readers) often continues to be lauded as the distinguishing virtue of games, hard-and-fast distinctions are being eroded. Astrid Ensslin, for example, while remaining appropriately sensitive to medium specificities, has posited the emergence of the hybrid form of the ‘literary game’ (2014), exemplified by such work as Tale of Tale’s The Path (2009).'  (Introduction)

Teaching Writing for Videogames, Leena Van Deventer , single work criticism

'Though recent years have seen an increase in scholarship exploring the links between games and the classroom (such as gamification and game mechanics in education), far less research has engaged with the practical challenges involved in the pedagogy of games writing itself. In this article, I explore the unique challenges that arise when teaching creative writing for non-linear and ludic contexts. When our exposure to more traditional forms of storytelling structures such as those in film or literature is so much greater than our proficiency in creating branching story structures, the introduction of player or reader agency to a piece of fiction requires a massive shift in process within a practitioner. Students are still trained from a young age to understand stories as following certain rules based on linear and non-interactive media contexts. These rules are at times contradictory to what is required when writing games. Students of game writing often fall into familiar and observable patterns as they become proficient in the requirements of interactive practice for the first time. Throughout this article I reflect on these pedagogical issues through my observations teaching interactive storytelling, and examine the importance of exposure to peers from other creative disciplines for game design and game writing students.'  (Publication abstract)

Writing Games : Popular and Critical Videogame Writing Over Time, Dan Golding , single work criticism

;Despite decades of research in game studies and its adjacent fields, other forms of creative and critical writing have arguably had the broadest impact on discourse surrounding the medium. This uneasily defined and liminal space of popular (and populist) critical work exists between those who make videogames and those who research and teach them, and often crosses between the multiple different spheres as a more accessible form of critical reflection with a lower barrier of entry. This area includes writing about videogames in diverse contexts and practices including journalism, criticism, books, YouTube videos, blog posts, and social media. This journal article will chart and engage with this diffuse range of non-scholarly writing and its impact. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of popular writing about videogames in the context of journalism (for newspapers, broadcasters, and magazines), books (such as This Gaming Life by Jim Rossignol, Extra Lives by Tom Bissel, and Death by Video Game by Simon Parkin), and the way that bloggers and non-scholarly writers have influenced the discourse surrounding writing for videogames.'  (Publication abstract)

What Games Writing Teaches Us about Creative Writing : A Case Study of The Fullbright Company’s Gone Home, Maria Takolander , single work criticism

'This paper challenges the popular perception of creativity as a characteristic of special individuals and, instead, proposes that creativity is an emergent event resulting from the dynamic interaction of a creative subject (or subjects), a social and cultural context, and the material artefact (itself embodying its own social and cultural history). This theory of creativity derives inspiration from the social psychology of creativity and, especially, the research of Vlad Petre Glăveanu, who analyses Romanian Easter-egg decoration to establish how creativity in all its manifestations occurs as a ‘distributed, dynamic, sociocultural and developmental phenomenon’ (2014: 2, original emphasis). This paper focuses on games writing. Taking as its case study The Fullbright Company’s multiaward-winning computer game Gone Home (2013), and informed by an interview with The Fullbright Company’s Steve Gaynor, this paper attends to the ‘sociality, materiality and temporality of the creative work’ (Glăveanu 2014: 5). Having deliberately chosen a game with literary characteristics, the paper aims to arrive at a deeper appreciation of a new form of creative writing (conceived here in a way that accepts medial change as a fundamental part of literary history). It concludes with a reflection on the possibility for a less Romantic and elitist understanding of creative writing in its traditional forms.'  (Publication abstract)

All the Delicate Duplicates : Game Building With[In] Mezangelle, Mez Breeze , single work criticism

'Inspired by the possibilities of fiction, digital poetry and experimental digital art, All the Delicate Duplicates tells a complex psychological story through a combination of digital literature and experimental game formats. Developed by digital artists/writers rather than traditional game developers, All the Delicate Duplicates attempts to expand storytelling within games by including 3D elements spanning multiple time periods and incorporating animated and transitional texts, thus leaving the story wide open to multiple revisits and interpretations. The poetic, digitally born language called ‘Mezangelle’ forms a central part of All the Delicate Duplicates. Mezangelle involves constructing poetic phrases to extend and enhance meaning beyond the expected. As Mezangelle remixes the basic structure of English and code to create language where meanings are nested, players need to read, re-read, then re-read again in order to piece together a narrative. This article traces how All the Delicate Duplicates was initially conceived, the commission parameters of the project, the use of Mezangelle as a project story component, and overall reception.' (Publication abstract)

Branched and Parsed : The Tools of Interactive Narrative Writing, Katryna Starks , single work criticism

'Interactive narrative presents an opportunity to create inviting experiences that challenge readers to become players within narrative rather than observers of it. It is an emerging form of narrative, with most research focusing on the content and structure of the narrative: the craft of writing interactive narratives, discussion on invention as applied to the narrative process, exploration of innovations in narrative, and suggestions for interactive narrative structure. However, interactive narrative requires more than writing skills; some knowledge of computer code is necessary as well, but there is little to bridge the gap between creative writing knowledge and coding practice to help creative writers become interactive narrative artists. There are several easy and free tools available to help creative writers practice non-linear writing and therefore enhance their skill level in potential game writing. These tools can also assist traditional writers in showcasing their works in non-traditional ways, progressing their writing technique and expanding their artistic repertoire. This article presents an overview of the interactive narrative technology available to writers, as well as commentary on their ease of use and experimental potential.'  (Publication abstract)

A Story Without Words : Challenges Crafting Narrative in the Videogame Rise, Dakoda Barker , single work criticism

'How does one tell a story without words? How does one construct a narrative for an audience without relying on words to reveal character and circumstances? My digital vignette, Rise, accounts a character’s morning routine without the exposition and cues provided by the narration or dialogue in traditional creative writing. This paper uses Rise as a lens through which to examine the inseparability of ludology and narratology in games, asserting that mechanical challenge can present narrative conflict, while player actions can become story. Although design choices can be used to guide the audience through a structured, linear narrative, the interpretation of that narrative relies on the audience’s ability to assign meaning to their actions, as well as the objects they encounter within their environment. Navigating the challenges of storytelling without words while designing Rise has revealed new approaches to my creative practice, and has implications for understanding how game mechanics influence narrative development, particularly in how they can further the pedagogical purposes of serious games.' (Publication abstract)

Connecting Player and Character Agency in Videogames, Alayna Cole , single work criticism

'In game studies, ‘agency’ is typically defined in terms of the ‘choices’ or ‘freedom’ granted to the player, which prioritises the influence of ludology on player engagement while discounting the impact of narratology (Tanenbaum & Tanenbaum 2010: 11). Alternative approaches to agency in games are under-theorised but equally important. This paper explores how player agency extends beyond in-game choices to their individual understanding and interpretation of a text, and how this form of player agency is equally evident in creative writing texts and other narrative mediums. Furthermore, this paper considers the understandings of ‘character agency’ that have been established in traditional creative writing and considers how this form of agency can influence our understanding of narrative in games. Character agency – and the autonomy of characters that it implies – engages an audience in the motivations of characters they (seemingly) do not control, and practitioners should consider how player agency intersects with the agency of non-player-characters (NPCs) if we are to understand the multi-faceted relationships audiences have with game narratives. This paper explores the ways game studies can engage with a broader consideration of agency, and how narrative is improved by the intersection of these approaches.' (Publication abstract)

Surveying VR Storytelling : Investigating Key Terminology and the Role of the Procedural Author, Brooke Maggs , single work criticism

'Current discussions around virtual reality (VR) storytelling have surged in the last few years, along with the growth of virtual reality technology and content. There is a focus on differentiating and defining this medium by discussing the immersive, interactive qualities that give it new ways to tell stories. Questions circle around what it means when audiences are ‘present’ in the narrative and how this creates a desire to have agency. I argue these terms – immersion, presence, interactivity, and agency – can be afforded more nuance as they are often used to discuss two different yet interconnected aspects of telling stories with technology: the technology itself and narrative techniques. In an attempt to understand how to tell stories with VR, I have discussed the terms immersion, presence, interactivity and agency from a technology perspective and a narrative perspective. I discuss the translation of literary techniques to VR narratives to demonstrate how storytellers can alter the way audiences are immersed, have agency and feel present and can interact in digital narratives.'  (Publication abstract)

Building the Character : Imagined Consciousness in Roleplaying Videogames, Matthew S. S. Johnson , single work criticism

'Media scholars often claim that videogamers are co-authors with designers/writers of videogame narratives. Yet in most videogames, authorship is illusory, a series of procedural choices whose outcomes are pre-programmed. However, invested gamers invent an ‘imagined consciousness’ of their player-characters, one that maintains character consistency and helps gamers not to author game narratives, but revise them. There is tension between gamer-playing-game and gamer-roleplaying-character caused by competing desires for gameplay experiences, but conscious negotiation of creative/inventive and readerly roles can reveal player agency, and enhance the pleasure of narrative videogaming experiences.'  (Publication abstract)

Waking up as Alan : Game Novelisation and the Playerreaderwriter, Ross Watkins , single work criticism

'‘What kind of writer are you?’ So the question is asked of Alan Wake, best-selling novelist embedded in his own horror story in Remedy Entertainment’s Alan Wake (2010), and subsequent novelisation by Rick Burroughs (2010). What kind of writer you are is a question which has long vexed not only genre fiction authors, but also those writers whose work feeds on/back into established narrative worlds. Game novelisation, the ‘reverse’ adaptation of videogames into novels, has attracted almost no academic enquiry to-date, and is much maligned by critics. Yet game novelisation is a writing and publishing practice on the increase, and when considered in overlap with the voluminous quantities of game fan fiction published online, transformative narrative practice is a phenomenon which begs greater attention within creative writing. While there is much work to be done on game novelisation and game fan fiction in terms of its place, reception and impact within gamer and publishing landscapes, from a creative writing viewpoint there is value to be gained in teasing out aspects of writing that are unique to these practices, and to consider how immersion in narrative world building is altered by the player cum reader cum writer. Using Alan Wake as one example, this article presents selected contextual discussion before performing a reflection on my own experience of narrative world building as player, reader and writer.' (Publication abstract)

Making It Old and New : Intermedial Print-digital Approaches to the Novel as Response to Media Competition, Rhett Davis , single work criticism

'The novel has been consistently threatened by competition from new mediums. From modernism to postmodernism and beyond, many writers have responded to this competition by innovating and incorporating new styles, forms and techniques for the novel. In the digital age, despite the threat to print from online sources, linear print novels remain the dominant fictional mode – even though most of us communicate and consume through a discontinuous array of digital media that bears little resemblance to them. Adam Hammond has declared ours a ‘hybrid moment … [in which we have] one foot in the print world and the other in the digital’ (2016). Recently authors have published augmented books – print novels enhanced with additional digital components – which belong to a wider category of intermedial narratives (Ryan 2016). This paper analyses the hybrid print-digital forms of Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad; positions the combination of print and digital narrative as a modern innovation in response to media competition; and argues that such approaches remediate the novel in ways that allow authors to reflect our hyper-attentive digital with fidelity.'  (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Introduction : Writing and Gaming Ross Watkins , Maria Takolander , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , April no. 49 2018;

'We have entered the age of gaming and gamification, and creative writing – as both a cultural practice and a discipline of study – is being drawn into this phase of digital culture. Despite the bookish backlash noted by Adam Hammond in Literature in the digital age (2016), major publishers have begun to experiment with interactive digital narratives. Penguin’s We tell stories (2008) was a first attempt by a major publisher to future-proof its business through a merging of gaming principles and creative writing – an attempt more recently repeated by Hachette’s New star soccer story ‘game book’ (2016). In ‘The shifting author-reader dynamic’, R. Lyle Skains diagnoses such experiments in relation to the consumer reality: ‘The next generation of readers is currently in their teens, spending far more attention, time, and money on digital platforms such as gaming and internet interactions than they do in any other entertainment genre’ (2010: 96). However, while literature is being challenged to adapt in a digital age increasingly dominated by gamers, the traffic is not just one-way. Games are also changing in response to literary or artistic imperatives, as writers are conscripted into development teams in an increasingly competitive games industry, and as scholars focus their attention on games as artefacts of cultural interest. While some early game scholars aggressively opposed the ludic culture of gaming to the readerly culture of literature, and while the agency of players (as opposed to the assumed passivity of readers) often continues to be lauded as the distinguishing virtue of games, hard-and-fast distinctions are being eroded. Astrid Ensslin, for example, while remaining appropriately sensitive to medium specificities, has posited the emergence of the hybrid form of the ‘literary game’ (2014), exemplified by such work as Tale of Tale’s The Path (2009).'  (Introduction)

Introduction : Writing and Gaming Ross Watkins , Maria Takolander , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , April no. 49 2018;

'We have entered the age of gaming and gamification, and creative writing – as both a cultural practice and a discipline of study – is being drawn into this phase of digital culture. Despite the bookish backlash noted by Adam Hammond in Literature in the digital age (2016), major publishers have begun to experiment with interactive digital narratives. Penguin’s We tell stories (2008) was a first attempt by a major publisher to future-proof its business through a merging of gaming principles and creative writing – an attempt more recently repeated by Hachette’s New star soccer story ‘game book’ (2016). In ‘The shifting author-reader dynamic’, R. Lyle Skains diagnoses such experiments in relation to the consumer reality: ‘The next generation of readers is currently in their teens, spending far more attention, time, and money on digital platforms such as gaming and internet interactions than they do in any other entertainment genre’ (2010: 96). However, while literature is being challenged to adapt in a digital age increasingly dominated by gamers, the traffic is not just one-way. Games are also changing in response to literary or artistic imperatives, as writers are conscripted into development teams in an increasingly competitive games industry, and as scholars focus their attention on games as artefacts of cultural interest. While some early game scholars aggressively opposed the ludic culture of gaming to the readerly culture of literature, and while the agency of players (as opposed to the assumed passivity of readers) often continues to be lauded as the distinguishing virtue of games, hard-and-fast distinctions are being eroded. Astrid Ensslin, for example, while remaining appropriately sensitive to medium specificities, has posited the emergence of the hybrid form of the ‘literary game’ (2014), exemplified by such work as Tale of Tale’s The Path (2009).'  (Introduction)

Last amended 26 Jul 2018 12:48:16
X