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digital literature topic play and game designs in digital literature 1

Digital Literature Topic:Play and Game Designs in Digital Literature (1)

@Shuen-shing LeeUnless specified otherwise, texts quoted in the lectureare mostly taken from Shuen-shing Lee’s “Explorations of Ergodic Literature” (dichtung-digital 2002) and Code at Work, Text at Play (Bookman 2004).


Defining Terms and Jargons

Demonstrating Works

Analyzing Forms of Expression

What to Do:

We’ll discuss literary play, games, and texts that contain ludic components. Keywords such as play (paidia) and game (ludus) will be elucidated. A differentiation of forms of representation and simulation is also included in our discussion list. Armed with such a basic understanding, we’ll explore a multitude of forms of simulation employed in digital literature.

terms and jargons
Terms and Jargons
  • Hypertext Literature (done; wk1)
  • Cybertext (done; wk1)
  • Play: 4 categories

competition, chance, mimicry, vertigo (see Caillois 12-13; print )

Play: 6 properties

Free, Separate, Uncertain, Unproductive, Governed by rules, Make-believe (see Caillois 9-10; print; see next slide)

Free [from obligations]: in which playing is not obligatory; if it were, it would at once lose its attractive and joyous quality as diversion;

Separate [being spatially and temporally independent]: circumscribed within limits of space and time, defined and fixed in advance;

Uncertain [the course and result uncertain]: the course of which cannot be determined, nor the result attained beforehand, and some latitude for innovations being left to the player’s initiative;

Unproductive [creating nothing physical]: creating neither goods, nor wealth, nor new elements of any kind; and except for the exchange of property among the players, ending in a situation identical to that prevailing at the beginning of the game;

Governed by rules: under conventions that suspend ordinary laws, and for the moment established new legislation, which alone counts;

Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality , as against real life

-- Caillois, Man, Play and Games, 12-13

terms and jargons5
Terms and Jargons
  • paidia, play (嬉玩)
  • ludus, game (競玩)

Games are dominated by the ultimate goal of win-lose or other similar binary patterns of opposition, while play embraces no goals of such kind (Frasca 1998).

terms and jargons6
Terms and Jargons
  • Representation 再現
  • Simulation; behavior modeling 模擬

Representation is "the act of portrayal, picturing, or other rendering in [textual and] visible form" (Random House Dictionary), a way of presentation prevalent in analog media such as fiction and film. By comparison, "Simulation does not simply represent objects and systems, but it also models their behaviors" (Frasca 2002; to be further discussed in “Simulation 101”)

terms and jargons7
Terms and Jargons
  • For a comparative definition of simulation and representation, see Frasca’s Simulation 101 (HTML or try this online version).
beyond mimicry literal simulation a metaphorical transformation game
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): a metaphorical transformation (game)
  • “Asteroids”(Atari, 1979)

(seelist-game.htm; dd)

beyond mimicry literal simulation a metaphorical transformation game9
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): a metaphorical transformation (game)
  • “arteroids” (〈藝術之星〉); “Asteroids” (〈外行星〉)

The shooting mode of “Arteroids” is modified from that of “Asteroids,” an early arcade game.

  • In its first Canto, the default defensive is the word "poetry," whose mission is to shoot, cracking open charging words or phrases such as "death," "fear," "insecurity," "nothing," or even "poetry" itself but in different colors.

(see list.htm; dd)

beyond mimicry literal simulation a metaphorical transformation game10
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): a metaphorical transformation (game)
  • You will be able to construct sentences such as:

“The battle of Poetry against itself and the forces of dullness” (『詩抗拒自我,也抗拒沉悶』), “poetry poetry all is poetry destroyed and created” (『任何事物都是詩,先破壞再創造出來』).

  • Symbolically, "poetry" is a weapon against the dark side of life and destroys even itself for the sake of resurrection. The interactive form of “Arteroids," in which the gamer assumes the role of a poet/fighter responsible for the gaming consequence of winning or losing, has re-energized such cliche motifs as "poetry vs. death" in literature.
  • This work transfers the motif of resistance from the platform of representation to that of simulation, wherein the imagineering (imagining + engineering) experience is greatly different from the imagining perception .
beyond mimicry literal simulation a metaphorical transformation game11
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): a metaphorical transformation (game)
  • See also “Trigger Happy.” Using Foucault’s text (selected from “What Is an Author?”) as the shooting targets.(see list-game.htm; dd)
  • Screenshots(DOC)Foucault’s Text (HTML)
beyond mimicry literal simulation a metaphorical transformation game12
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): a metaphorical transformation (game)
  • “Trigger Happy” is based on the arcade game “Space Invaders.”

(see list-game.htm; dd)

beyond mimicry literal simulation an ironic simulation play
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): an ironic simulation (play)
  • 〈熊〉(“Bear”)( “Teddy Will Comfort Me”;泰迪熊溫暖我的心)

(see list.htm; dd)

beyond mimicry literal simulation an ironic simulation play14
Beyond Mimicry (Literal Simulation): an ironic simulation (play)
  • "Teddy will comfort me" is the only phrase on the "Bear" page in Nobody Here (anonymous). Above this phrase rests a visual paidia environment wherein the reader/player is invited to torture a Teddy bear with an array of objects such as scissors, tape, and nails. Irony immediately arises from the clash between the text (representation) and the paidia situation (simulation): the consolation is derived from sadistically torturing a cuddly toy rather than being comforted by its cuteness. Notably, it is the input of physicality from the reader/player which converts the paidia situation into a signifying system.
simulation play as an interactive illustration hermit16
Simulation (Play) As an Interactive Illustration :“Hermit” (〈寄居蟹〉)
  • Herman was lying in the tide

afraid of everything,

until I took him to the safety of the city,

where he now hides

in drugs, religion, money and lust.

The hermit crab is a peculiar animal.

  • (See list.htm; dd)
more artful behavior modeling works
More Artful Behavior-Modeling Works
  • Digital Fortune telling?: “I’Ching Poetry Engine”

(see list.htm; dd)

  • A fortune telling toy?: “Oracle.” (see list.htm; dd)
  • Textual Carving: “Carving in Possibilities”

(see list.htm; dd)

more artful behavior modeling works i ching poetry engine
More Artful Behavior-Modeling Works: “I’Ching Poetry Engine”
  • 〈易詩機器〉(“I’Ching Poetry Engine”)
  • From fortune telling to poetry making
  • The state in this screen shot represents that three tiny circles have been clicked. The current hexagram on display is called “CONSTRAINT,” the 30th of I Ching(離).
  • The screen shot indicates a randomly generated poem gliding into the 3D space and shrinking into the dark depth along the z-axis. In this reading of mine, the poem goes as follows: “berries everywhere, / ripe for picking / will swift justice propel you forwards? / deliver your blow soundly now! / truth burns / make choices in your doing / feet on the earth, / flame ahead to light up the way! / proceed.”

*From divine chance to artful randomness; Mysteriousness persists in the transformation from the supernatural to the artificial

more artful behavior modeling works oracle
More Artful Behavior-Modeling Works:“Oracle”
  • How to operate “oracle”:To get an answer to his question from the machine, the user has to go through the following steps: (1) arranging three peculiar symbols randomly provided by the machine in the way he thinks fit; (2) inputting his own interpretations to a statement, called “situation,” randomly provided by the machine; and (3) repeating Steps (1) and (2) once. When the user finishes the procedure, his interpretations and the statements provided by the machine will combine at the end of the ritual, forming an answer to the question he puts forth at the beginning.
  • “I’m someone who values the [random] process on many levels, who considers oracles much more than fortune telling toys, and for whom the activity involves a profound (and profoundly playful) meditation about the nature of time and synchronicity. . .” (Slattery, anxieties.htm).
The alternative use of randomness deftly frees Slattery from such generic charges as Michael Mateas’s on fortune telling programs “implemented in gears or in code”: “They work by giving ambiguous responses that can be interpreted by individuals in the contexts of their own lives; by having the responses relate to important life themes, such as love or career, these systems effectively push most of the sense-making onto the human participant instead of into the system. The participant does all the work of reading meaning into a random process” (2004). Mateas is perfectly right to point out that the user’s engagement in an oracular interpretation hinges upon a free but subjective association with what the user is concurrently concerned with. But Mateas has not perceived that serious fortune telling involves a particular kind of “willing belief”: the message in an oracle is not from a machine or human-made agent but a deity. Or to magnify the point, Mateas does not differentiate algorithmic randomness from divine Chance, at least in the case of I Ching. Taking I Ching as a cybertext or a fortune telling object driven by algorithmic randomness is one thing, while treating I Ching as a divine oracle provider is another matter. * See Mateas_on_fortunetelling.doc for more info.
more artful behavior modeling works carving in possibilities22
More ArtfulBehavior-Modeling Works“Carving in Possibilities”
  • Texts and a graphic bust of Michelangelo’s “David” in this work unravel step-by-step in response to continual random re-positioning of the mouse.
  • The motion of the mouse, accompanied by pounding sounds which imply steel carving stone, connotes the process of transforming a shapeless rock into a statue with a human form.
  • The application of mouseover/play design elevates the playground of random search to that of a metaphorical quest for a certain object.