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May 09, 2006

Virtual Realism

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A Review of Narrative as Virtual Reality

"...This brings us to the second crucial characteristic of hypertexts: the importance of the reader, who often becomes a player. In most cases, this importance is theorized by means of the concepts of immersion and interactivity. Precisely because of his active involvement, the reader/player loses himself in the computer game he is playing, or in the digital text he is writing with the help of all kinds of computer techniques. According to Marie-Laure Ryan in Narrative as Virtual Reality, this combination of immersion and interaction is not possible with literary texts. Literary texts that force the reader to participate actively - textes scriptibles or ‘writerly’ texts, to use Roland Barthes’ terms - inevitably shatter the effects of realism experienced by the reader; they introduce distance and lead readers to consider literary procedures more closely, which disrupts the immersion.

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Ryan relates immersion to the phenomenological approach to reading as a complete conflation of subject (reader) and object (text). She connects interaction with the structuralist approach of the text as a game, a system of rules that induces action. As a combination of immersion and interaction, hypertext would be an object of investigation in which the two traditionally opposed approaches could meet..." From Virtual Realism by Luc Herman and Bart Vervaeck; a review of Marie-Laure Ryan, Narrative as Virtual Reality: Immersion and Interactivity in Literature and Electronic Media, Baltimore, MA: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Posted by jo at May 9, 2006 10:05 AM

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