I’ve been working on a review of Marie-Laure Ryan’s Narrative as Virtual Reality for Computers and the Humanities, the journal of the Association for Computers and the Humanities. It needs to be short, explain why the journal’s audience might be interested in Ryan’s topic, and also give my personal take on the book. I’d be very interested to hear comments on the draft below.
Last year Andrew Stern sent out an enthusiastic email message about Marie-Laure Ryan’s Narrative as Virtual Reality. He called it one of the best books to address interactive drama.
Interactive drama is an area of investigation that attracts scholarly and popular audiences. At its broadest, it covers the wide range of computer experiences that have story content, some form of performative enactment, and a means for the audience (whether a full theatre or a single person in front of their PC) to alter some aspect of this story or enactment. The group interested in interactive drama includes English professors who see it as a future form of literature, media scholars who see it as an approach for understanding computer games, computer scientists who see it as the next major application for artificial intelligence, and entertainment executives who see it as the next stage of cinema. Interest in interactive drama has contributed to the success of past books such as Brenda Laurel’s Computers as Theatre, Janet H. Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck, Espen Aarseth’s Cybertext, and Mark Stephen Meadows’s Pause and Effect.
Stern is one of the leading practitioners in the area of interactive character and drama. After getting his email I decided to do a web search and see what else I could learn about Narrative as Virtual Reality. To my surprise, I found almost nothing. There were some weblog comments, but few did more than mention the book’s existence. I didn’t find a single online review, and I found few references to offline ones. At the end of this process, my interest was piqued. A book came out from a major academic publisher on a topic of current interest — and to someone as well informed as Stern it was an exciting addition to the literature, but the field as a whole had largely ignored it. It was a bit of a mystery. And so, in order to have a reason to delve into this mystery myself, I set out to review this volume.
This is a preview of
Narrative as Virtual Reality
. Read the full post.