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Friday, 17 May 2013

Interactive Literature

 I wasn’t sure whether to put this on my games blog or on here. Obviously I decided to put it here… for reasons that should hopefully become apparent…

People have been talking about fiction becoming interactive since the inception of the ‘text-based adventure game.’ I recently come across an essay written in the 1989, purely by chance,  and soon realised that nothing much has really changed in the general public’s attitudes to this medium from then till now, which is surprising really, as our general attitudes to pretty much every other aspect of computing has changed.
I remember spending many hours of my youth playing these text-based adventure games, and have probably spent more time on this type of program than on any other. I remember eagerly awaiting the release of the next Scott Adams Adventure game for my VIC-20, then later drooling over the hype machines from  the likes of Level 9, Infocom,  and Magnetic Scrolls, to name but a few. And make no mistake, these games releases were major events, with many people more than ready to part with their cash for the next game in a series or for the latest brand new story. The best-selling text-based adventure games were easily amongst the bestselling entertainment software of their day, and it very much was about the story and its, often reoccurring, characters.  This was a recognized gamming genre that only seemed set to stay and grow with time. Then everything changed. As computer gaming become gradually more mainstream the emphasis was firmly placed on graphics and easy to access gameplay. By the time of the Sony Playstation heralded in an era of 3D gameplay for everyone, the traditional text-based adventure game was already commercially dead and largely forgotten by the general games-playing public.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Dan Brown - An Inferno in a Tea-Cup?

 Ok, so I more-or-less knew what the reaction to the latest Blockbuster by Dan Brown was going to be before it was launched earlier this week. People were always going to buy this in their droves, and the ‘literary’ critics were always going to berate it as ‘badly written pulp,’ which they did – and worse. Still the book was already on Waterstones best-seller list even before it was released, due to the quantity of pre-orders… Not that you really needed to pre-order it. One day after launch I walked into Tesco’s to be greeted by a huge pile of the inferno Hardbacks, bundled up right in-front of the doors.  I didn’t pick one up though, even though I have read the other three books in the series and freely admit that I quite liked them. No they won’t win a Pulitzer, but they will make an absolutely ridiculous amount of money for all concerned, and be honest, which one would you really, really like? I didn’t not buy it because of any moral or literary stance though, I didn’t buy it because I still had a couple of Waterston’s gift cards left over from Christmas, and I decided to opt for the e-reader version.
I’m only a little ways into the book at the time of writing this, but it’s already abundantly clear that this is exactly what I thought it would be, more of the same formula. If that sounds a bit dismissive it isn’t meant to be. As I said, I liked the formula. I liked the last books. They were simple adventurous fun ‘fluff,’ but what’s wrong with that? I liked the previous stories and I liked what I’ve read of this one. I will finish it, smile, put it down, and forget about it until the next one comes out… Just like I did with the rest, and there is nothing wrong with that. I suppose this series can be my ‘Hary Potter’ or dare I say it even my ‘Twilight’ (shudder)…
It’s not rocket-science, it’s not high-brow, and it probably won’t ever be seen as ‘literature’ whatever that’s meant to be. But it is a good crowed pleasing story, and yet more proof, if it were ever needed, that precise clinical ‘literary’ writing we are all told to practice isn’t necessarily what the general public (the people I actually seen one critique refer to as ‘the unwashed masses,’ tells you bucket-loads about the reviewer that does) really want, what they want is a good story…
… then in our hearts I think we all know that, so good luck to Mr Brown.