Bringing Help to Teens Via the Games World; Professor Astrid Ensslin on Her Studies into Whether Digital Fiction Can Be Used to Enhance Young Girls' Body Image and What Happens When Literature and Computer Games Merge
WE ALL know what a videogame is. We all know what a novel is. And we probably find it quite difficult to imagine playing a game and reading a poem or novel at the same time.
After all, one is about making fast progress, levelling up, killing enemies, collecting items, and the other is about immersing oneself into imaginary worlds by decoding language, word by word, sentence by sentence.
But make no mistake, for a few decades artists, writers and game designers have been experimenting with what happens when we merge gaming and reading, and the results of these projects are stunning. They have given rise to a wide variety of new creative media, which might be digital poems or fictions that can be played, or computer games that we can read.
The Princess Murderer, for example, is a novel that has to be read online, by clicking images and bits of text on the computer screen. It's not like an e-book, which we read by turning pages. It's a digital, interactive text that can't be printed because every time we read it, the plot is different, and this is because we click different links and encounter different parts of the story whenever we go back to it.
The Princess Murderer is an adaptation of the Enlightenment fairy tale, Bluebeard, and what the reader - or should I say player? - has to do is save (or kill) princesses because there are either too few or too many in the castle. But it turns out that the game can't be won, and that it isn't really about collecting or killing off lovely ladies - I shall say no more.
At the moment I am writing a book called Literary Gaming, which maps and analyses the wide range of digital creative media that lie somewhere between reading and gaming and challenge readers and gamers in unforeseen ways. …