A New Type of Literature

Posted: January 22, 2013 in Uncategorized

Here’s a thought: video games are the new literary frontier.  When people ask me what I want to study, they give me the weirdest looks when I tell them, “Video games.”  They think I’m joking.  I am only slightly crazy–like 40% crazy.  But that’s all.  And that kind of crazy ain’t got nothin’ to do with intellectual pursuits.

So here’s the thing.  People who study literature look at books and film.  Film is a fairly recent development in the world of literary studies, too.  At first, with books, you get words on a page.  Maybe a picture.  Film revolutionized what we consider text.  It’s not just sub”text” anymore.  Now we get to analyze visual and auditory subtexts!  Video games take it a step further.  What do video games have that books and films don’t?  Direct interaction with a virtual environment.  Direct interaction with text.  Except you can’t see the majority of the text.  The text (at least in my opinion) includes the code–invisible signs that signify to us what we see and hear in that virtual environment.  Of course, as a gamer, you’ll probably still have things to read in-game.  But you’re in a different reality as long as you are playing the game.  You aren’t you.  You’re someone else.  So what does this mean?

This is a MAJOR opportunity for the education world.  Think Transcendental education–learning through action.  Except without the  physical consequences of messing up.  Chemistry, for example.  Say you accidentally mix things you shouldn’t.  Maybe your virtual self dies.  And you get to try again.  It’s an opportunity for learning faster and more effectively than by just reading a textbook.  In fact, there are already educational video games called “serious games.”  Don’t faint.

Also, just so you can see what game developers have to think about when designing games:  BAM.  Cognitive Load Theory.  Check that bad boy out.  It’s not all fun and games (<—punny, right?).

I could probably go on all day about literary theory and its application to video games, but I’ll spare you.  Besides, I’m super rusty.  It’s been about a year since I read anything of that nature.  The university I attend doesn’t really give me time to focus on my own stuff.  I’ll be posting more about this.  Maybe making this promise will motivate me to read Aarseth, Baudrillard and Hayles in my spare time.


  1. You knew this already, but I absolutely agree with you. It’s a great opportunity and nowadays you really see people sucked in to the story of a game just about as frequently as the gameplay.

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