"That's not how it should end!": the effect of reader/player response on the development of narrative

Clark, L., 2018. "That's not how it should end!": the effect of reader/player response on the development of narrative. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

Clark.Lynda-2018 excl. 3rd Party Material.pdf - Published version

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When the final instalment of the videogame series Mass Effect was released in March 2012, many fans used online forums to express displeasure at the game's ending. A surprising number suggested that Victorian writers such as Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were far more attentive and responsive to their audience's preferences than modern authors or videogame writers. This thesis, in part, seeks to explore the veracity of this idea through a creative-critical comparison of key examples of Victorian serial fiction and modern episodic videogames, and through the creation of an interactive novella.

The creative-critical element of the thesis is produced in two formats which examine how serial texts may be considered 'interactive' due to the unique opportunity they provide for readers to influence the act of textual production; the extent to which videogames may be considered serial due to their structure, content, and modes of delivery; the controversies surrounding consumption of serials and videogames; and how techniques relating to characterisation, character death and endings operate within serial and interactive forms. Focussing primarily on Great Expectations, selected Sherlock Holmes stories, and the Mass Effect and Life is Strange videogame series, the role of writer and reader as collaborative participants in the creation of narrative content is examined in particular in relation to the tropes of the magic trick, the telepathic exchange and the detective duo.

The creative component of the thesis puts some of these findings into practice by offering a story in which the reader-player gradually comes to realise the effect of their interventions in the narrative. Created using the authoring tool ChoiceScript, Writers Are Not Strangers plays with ideas of co-operation and control, and authorship and agency. Using a modular structure and quality-based salience (text dependent on previous user choices) this multi-branching, multiple-ended text attempts to craft a story in response to its reader, while never fully giving over control.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Clark, L.
Date: December 2018
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 15 Oct 2019 11:47
Last Modified: 15 Oct 2019 11:47
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/37967

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