Open Access (free)
The computer game as fictional form
Author: Barry Atkins

This book is dedicated to the study of computer games in terms of the stories they tell and the manner of their telling. It applies practices of reading texts from literary and cultural studies to consider the computer game as an emerging mode of contemporary storytelling. The book contains detailed discussion of narrative and realism in four of the most significant games of the last decade: ‘Tomb Raider’, ‘Half-Life’, ‘Close Combat’, and ‘Sim City’. It recognises the excitement and pleasure that has made the computer game such a massive global phenomenon.

Open Access (free)
Reading Half-Life
Barry Atkins

3 Gritty realism: reading Half-Life Half-Life [inc. Half-Life (1998), Half-Life: Opposing Force (1999), Half-Life: Blue Shift (2001)]. First-person shooter. The player controls the actions of an in-game protagonist from a firstperson perspective. What the player sees is what the protagonist would see. Progression through the game largely involves forward movement through a series of areas within a government research complex. There is a limited need to interact with objects and the landscape. All versions of the game offer variations on a basic escape and

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Reading Close Combat
Barry Atkins

, of conflict. Of all the game-fictions selected as primary examples in this study, Close Combat is the least likely to be an instantly recognisable brand name even to those who spend their leisure time staring at a computer monitor. Its relative popularity as a games franchise might be indicated by the longevity of a series that had seen five episodes released by the year 2000, but it has hardly become a household name in the same way that Half-Life, Tomb Raider, or SimCity have. Its profile even among other real-time strategy games, itself an extremely popular sub

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Reading SimCity
Barry Atkins

game-fictions driven forwards by their move from moment to moment of extreme violence might chap5.p65 111 13/02/03, 14:23 112 More than a game also come as something of a surprise. Forms of conflict and confrontation have always played a major part in the structuring of both games and popular fictions, after all. We know where we are, in story terms, where there is a loaded gun available and a slavering alien or shambling zombie in front of us. How we ‘should’, or how we ‘can’, read such a plot fragment is obvious. Where Tomb Raider and Half-Life had obvious

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Barry Atkins

of Better Than Life, like the players of Half-Life, ‘know’ that this is not the real, for all that the fulfilment of their inner desires persuades them to lie to themselves and remain ‘immersed’. Red Dwarf is not merely science fiction, but science fiction parody, and much entertainment is provided by the audience knowledge and protagonist ignorance that this allows. The eventual realisation of the fictionality of the experience of Better Than Life (and that it is killing the players in the real world as they neglect all those inconvenient bodily matters not dealt

in More than a game
Barry Atkins

might become, rather than address the mundanity of the object we actually have access to. This is not that potentially oxymoronic thing, an ‘untheorised reading’. Rather, it is a reading that draws on narratological and structuralist thinking and criticism for the most part, and tries to leave its more speculative digressions until the closing chapter. Those who wish to read chap1.p65 10 13/02/03, 14:00 The computer game as fictional form 11 about Tomb Raider, Half-Life, Close Combat, or SimCity are advised to skip ahead to the beginning of Chapter 2 and read on

in More than a game
Open Access (free)
Sue Thomas

aspects of this topos in Half a Life . Willie Chandran’s journey from India to London to an unnamed African colony (recognisably Mozambique) is also a progressive movement to dependence and defeat. His anxieties centre on emasculation and inauthenticity. His ‘halflife is one characterised by hiding. For example, as a child he revises European stories movingly, yet obliquely, to accuse his parents

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Dorothy Porter

From the outset, adjunct therapies such as the administration of a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) were tried to improve the effects of L-DOPA, especially to counteract the ‘wearing off’ period resulting from the short half-life of two hours of the dopamine precursor. While scepticism persisted about the efficacy of L-DOPA, in the late 1960s George Costzias demonstrated the emphatic anti-Parkinsonian impact of increasing dosage over a prolonged period of time. In 1969, Costzias began mixing L-DOPA with a peripheral dopa decarboxylase inhibitor (MK485) which

in Balancing the self
Philip Nanton

way or the other. Then she will know what to do next. It’s this suspension, hanging in a void, this half-life she can’t bear. She can’t bear not knowing. She doesn’t want to know’ (52). Rennie’s ambivalence about the nature of this particular boundary arises from the fact that the boundary of her own body has been violated by the cancer that afflicts her. The insecurity of a physical self on which she

in Frontiers of the Caribbean
Open Access (free)
Reading Tomb Raider
Barry Atkins

‘immersion’ in the computer game are dealt with at length in Chapter 3 in relation to Half-Life. 2 This is not true of sloppy programming, rather than the conventions chap2.p65 53 13/02/03, 16:36 54 3 4 5 6 7 chap2.p65 More than a game of representation established throughout the series. Tomb Raider’s first five outings have all been accused, to a greater or lesser extent, of being ‘unfinished’, with a tendency for Lara Croft to be able to move her limbs through apparently solid objects such as walls and doors. While it is easy to see why so many players find

in More than a game