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.
An international research initiative run by the Development Learning Programme based at the
University of Birmingham. See: www.dlprog.org/research/thinking-and-working-politically-community-of-practice.php .
By the same token, elites must have super-brains.
Since the mid 2000s, there has been a growing number of computergames and software
programmes that claim to allow interested parties to experience what it is like to be a refugee
or subject to a disaster. The Darfur content on Google Layers, for
perceived as a form of fiction for children and adolescents, with all the pejorative associations that such a classification
carries with it. Games, with their vast time demands and lack of
discernible product in their near-onanistic engagement of an individual with a machine, have hardly been welcomed with open arms
by the parents of their target audience. ‘Adult’, when it is invoked as
a term at all, most often equates with ‘pornographic’, rather than
That some of the same criticisms made of computergames
might be levelled at the practice of reading
More than a game?
OUR SIMULATORS ARE NOT ARCADE OR COMPUTERGAMES. Their cockpits and controls are identical to the real
aircraft, and they replicate the sensation of flying to extraordinary degrees of accuracy. Participants should be 14 years of age
or over. (Pamphlet advertising simulator ‘flights’, Yorkshire Flight
Cyberpunk fiction and cyberculture theorising have no monopoly
of interest in the uncomfortable slippage that might accompany
the potential for simulation offered by computergames. The threeway intersection between
, resilience, stability and sustainability 153
characterising Crake’s intelligence in superficial and shorthand ways (for
instance, by identifying him as a numbers guy). As teenagers, Jimmy and
Crake spend a lot of time together, smoking pot, watching Internet porn
and online broadcasts of capital punishment, and playing computergames.
The porn sites – Tart of the Day, Superswallowers and HottTotts – demonstrate Atwood’s knack for echoing the facile, and almost always comic,
logic of contemporary commercial language. So do online execution sites
like shortcircuit.com and
something that is other than real experience.
What limited claims the game’s promoters do make for
realism are essentially comparative with other computergames.
This game is more realistic than earlier platform jumping games
such as Super Mario or Donkey Kong. To draw on the language in
which realism is commonly discussed, then its most basic claim to
be more realistic than such earlier computergames is that it is not
as ‘flat’ or ‘two dimensional’, and offers the illusion of three dimensions (at least in terms of the rendering of landscape, if not of character and plot
management or ‘god
game’), but as representative of a basic difference between how story
More than a game
might be told and read within computergames and how our other
stories are read and told.
Both Half-Life and Tomb Raider have had their direct
clones, but few have been able to compete with them directly in
story terms, even when more advanced technology has been made
available to designers who then ratchet up our visual and aural
expectations. We recognise their stories because they resemble the
stories we are exposed to in our
writes about meeting a boy playing computergames on the camp’s main street. ‘Counter Strike, has become the most
populous diversion for the thousands of young, restless boys of Zaatari
refugee camp. “It teaches us how to fight jihad”’, nine-year-old
Mohammed is quoted as saying. 30 MacKinnon also uses the computer game analogy:
Counterstrike , which pits terrorists
potential of such confusion in updating the plot of Michael Crichton’s West World (1973)
in an episode co-written by William Gibson and entitled First Person Shooter in which real deaths occur within a fictional space where
players take part in a game that itself owes much to multiplayer
computergames such as Quake Arena or Counter-Strike, the
multiplayer arena version of Half-Life. In written fiction, the example of Gibson’s Neuromancer, in which the essentially
recognisable artificiality and geometric abstraction of cyberspace
is accompanied by potentially more
Remediation, intermediality and embodiment
Originally, Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin coined the term ‘remediation’ to counteract the dominant ‘modernist myth of the new’ (1998, back cover), according to which digital technologies in particular were thought to break free from older media by setting new aesthetic and cultural principles. Yet, as Bolter and Grusin have shown, using a wide selection of examples from computergames to digital photography, film, television, virtual reality and the World Wide Web, such