I’m reading Bolter and Joyce’s 1987 paper describing Storyspace and arguing for the possibility of electronic literature and hypertext fiction, situating this in relation to interactive fiction and to dadaism, Borges and other twentieth century experimental literature. Interestingly Bolter and Joyce use “interactive fiction” both to refer to the textual games that are called interactive fiction today and as a general word for electronic literature. They draw attention to the gamelike qualities of electronic literature (“All electronic literature takes the form of a game, a contest between author and reader.”, p 49) and to other characteristics of electronic literature, like its temporality and the relationship between reader and text:

Electronic writers therefore need conventions, genres, traditions by which their medium can be governed. They must find new ways to maintain a tension between the reader and the text. The source of that tension will surely be the participation of the reader in making the text. In eIectronic fiction, the struggle between author and reader to appropriate the writing space can become visible, as the reader admits or tries to avoid admitting particular elements into his particular reading of the text.

This particular bit particularly appeals to me because of my fascination with the relationship between the reader and the text (PDF).

2 thoughts on “bolter and joyce on interactive fiction

  1. Jose Angel

    I suppose you could say that bit about the interaction between writer and reader about all literature, not just web literature. But some genres make especially visible elements which are present in others, and thus they attune our antennae to elements which went unnoticed before.

  2. Jill

    Jim, my interest is in how much electronic literature requires the reader to *perform* in various ways as well as interpret as a reader always must do. Espen Aarseth describes this well – all readers interpret, and readers of cybertexts also have to (to varying degrees) configure, contribute and so on. Don’t have hte book here so I don’t have the exact words.

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