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Narration, Intrigue, and Reader Positioning in Electronic Narratives

Narration, Intrigue, and Reader Positioning in Electronic Narratives Daniel Punday This article grows out of the intuition that despite important recent contributions to the study of digital textuality, we still have very poor language for discussing the place of the reader in electronic--or computer-mediated--narratives.1 Critics routinely observe that the reader seems more active in these stories, and as N. Katherine Hayles (2008) notes, early criticism was guilty of "extrapolating from the reader's ability to choose which link to follow to make extravagant claims about hypertext as a liberatory mode that would dramatically transform reading and writing" (31). Subsequent commentary has qualified those claims, but little work has been done to evaluate the relevance of core narratological concepts like narrator, narratee, and implied reader as tools to describe the process of reader positioning in electronic narratives. A significant exception is Espen J. Aarseth's (1997) analysis of the text adventure game; here Aarseth coined the term intrigue to refer to "a sequence of os- cillating activities effectuated (but certainly not controlled) by the user" (112). That is, intrigue describes those actions that a user must perform in order to move the game forward. Aarseth's use of this term is quite narrow: he sees it as a feature that http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png StoryWorlds: A Journal of Narrative Studies University of Nebraska Press

Narration, Intrigue, and Reader Positioning in Electronic Narratives

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Publisher
University of Nebraska Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Nebraska Press
ISSN
2156-7204
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Abstract

Daniel Punday This article grows out of the intuition that despite important recent contributions to the study of digital textuality, we still have very poor language for discussing the place of the reader in electronic--or computer-mediated--narratives.1 Critics routinely observe that the reader seems more active in these stories, and as N. Katherine Hayles (2008) notes, early criticism was guilty of "extrapolating from the reader's ability to choose which link to follow to make extravagant claims about hypertext as a liberatory mode that would dramatically transform reading and writing" (31). Subsequent commentary has qualified those claims, but little work has been done to evaluate the relevance of core narratological concepts like narrator, narratee, and implied reader as tools to describe the process of reader positioning in electronic narratives. A significant exception is Espen J. Aarseth's (1997) analysis of the text adventure game; here Aarseth coined the term intrigue to refer to "a sequence of os- cillating activities effectuated (but certainly not controlled) by the user" (112). That is, intrigue describes those actions that a user must perform in order to move the game forward. Aarseth's use of this term is quite narrow: he sees it as a feature that

Journal

StoryWorlds: A Journal of Narrative StudiesUniversity of Nebraska Press

Published: Jun 16, 2012

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