The development of the printing press, from print to the computer and EBooks

Prior to the development of printing virtually every book and every document was a manuscript. They were developed through intense time consuming labour, “a centuries old, labour intensive, undercapitalised form of production was able to create only a very few texts for an elite market.” (Sawday,p5) This way of producing a manuscript was extremely expensive and it ultimately separated people more as the rich and the poor were now not only divided through wealth, they were now being divided through education. Only those who could afford to have these manuscripts would be able to see them. Only very popular texts of universal appeal would have been produced. Wood cut printing was in use prior to Gutenberg’s development of the printing press. This was another time consuming labour as a new block had to be carved in reverse for each page. A video of how woodcut printing can be seen here As a result few works justified the intensity of labour required for publication by this method. Prior to the invention of the printing press, buyers were more involved in the development process of their book. “Despite the gradual appearance of the book buyers in the fifteenth century, the circulation of books was undoubtedly far more limited in the absence of print technology.” (Sawday, p5) So with the development of the printing press we can see the first stages of the importance and impact of print, and the importance of the distribution of books and information. Although it is nothing in comparison to how information is spread today, it was for its time a huge development that would one day lead to the computers we have today, and the vast amount of information available freely and easily to us.

The development of print ultimately changed the world and paved the way for the increase in the spread of information. There are inevitably many benefits to the development of print, Education and religion are two areas that benefited greatly. Martin Luther evidently used print for the spread of his own ideas and the criticism of the Catholic Church. He is arguably one of the most famous examples “of the power of this new technology to participate in or even precipitate radical change.” ( Sawday, p5)Martin Luther’s writings on indulgences have been seen as founding texts in the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s ideas were able to pass through countless cities spreading his views on Religion. This aspect of the same ideas being shown to vast amounts of different people in different countries is an amazing achievement as it helped spread information like never before. “Luther’s exploitation of this new medium gives us an insight into the ways in which the energies unleashed by the printing press, like those generated by the computer today, were beyond the power of any one individual to master.” The development of print opened up a new way in which knowledge was able to circulate faster and the print itself wouldn’t be altered through word of mouth. Education is another area that was drastically altered for the better with the development of print. Print ultimately led to more people being educated, as more books became easily available. The printing press inevitably had a positive impact on people’s education, with the development of the printed book students were able to learn better. It is apparent that the development of print transformed learning in a positive way. According to Elizabeth Einstein, “Young minds provided with updated editions, especially of mathematical texts began to surpass not only their own elders but the wisdom of ancients as well.”(Einstein, p689) Intelligent people were able to access educational books and enhance their knowledge of geography physics, maths and above all their own minds. Gutenberg’s invention made it more accessible for poorer people to educate themselves in a time when illiteracy was rampant among the poorer classes of society. The printing press increased literacy by making books more accessible and this drastically altered how people were being educated, and how people were getting a better knowledge of the world they inhabited. “When the press began to be worked, hundreds of copies materialised in less time than it took to speak the text.” (Shillinsburg,p1)

The printing press had a huge impact on how information was processed and distributed to vast numbers of people. The development of print enhanced the world for the better as information became more easily and freely available, similarly to how information is available today. The computer inevitably impacted people in a similar way the development of print impacted people over five hundred years ago. It is evident that the days of spending hours looking through countless books for the information you require is a thing of the past, as information about everything is easily available with a few clicks of the mouse. The development of the computer has enhanced the world and has made it a much smaller place. People can find out all the information they wish to know without ever leaving their house. It is possible for people today to experience different cultures and see different places sitting in front of a computer or laptop. Prior to the development of the computer and the internet people were only able to experience and learn about different places by reading a book. The way in which information is made available has completely changed, making it far more easier to access. It is evident the printing press was a way of making information spread faster however the development of the computer has taken that to a completely different level in how advanced it is. According to Peter L. Shillingsburg, it makes you wonder “in 500 years, would anyone stand to look at a museum display of the first electronic book,” (Shillinsburg,p1) like we do today visiting copies of the first books printed in the Gutenberg museum. If we have developed something so advanced in how information is spread, what will be around in 500 years? It is evident that even today the computer is still evolving as information is becoming increasingly more available at an ever increasing rate. In five hundred years we have gone from vast amounts of books being printed in order to have the spread of information, to this slowly becoming a thing of the past. Books are in the midst of being replaced by EBooks, IPods and laptops. It is now possible to visit a library and read as many books as you wish without ever leaving your house. Information is more accessible with these new developments. EBooks have allowed people to read as many books as they wish and they are inevitably replacing a hard copy. It is cheaper and more convenient to read a book on your EBook as you are not restricted by weight and room like you would be with vast amounts of hard copies. To watch the difference between a book and an EBook click here


By, Sinead Reed


• Einstein, Elizabeth. The printing press as an agent of change. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1980.
• Mcluan, M. The Gutenberg galaxy: the making of typographic man. Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1962.
• Sawday, Jonathan. The Renaissance Computer: knowledge technology in the first age of print. London, Routledge, 2000.
• Shillingsburg, L. Peter. From Gutenberg to Google: electronic representations of literary texts. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006.



Fan fiction

For my personal project I decided to do fanfiction, commonly known as fic among the fanfiction community. Fanfiction is a form of writing that is increasingly becoming more popular among fans. The word fanfiction actually means “a fictional account written by a fan of a show, movie, book, or video game to explore themes and ideas that will not or cannot be explored via the originating medium.” Fanfiction has become increasingly popular and the most popular site for fanfiction is which can be found here. It is a hobby taken up by many aspiring writers but is surrounded by many issues. Some of which I will discuss, such as:

– A new reading experience
– Legality issues
– Opinions of authors

Interactive reading
Fan fiction enables readers to become part of the story; they are able to create alternative story lines, characters and scenarios. Fan fiction enables fans to enhance their overall reading experience. Readers can now control the world of the story they are interested in, and send it in directions it would not ordinarily go. They become actively involved in the plot and characters, it is a new interactive form of reading and watching movies etc., fans are no longer mindlessly absorbing what has happened but changing and interacting with the story. Through one’s own fanfiction and through reading others fans are able to fully engross themselves in a narrative and get as much out of it as possible.
They can create new relationships and place characters from a well-known story in an entirely different world; this is known as alternate universe. Popular types of fan fiction include, placing a character in the world of another popular narrative where characters often meet one another, this is called crossover. Another popular form of fan fiction but one that often receives a lot of criticism is fan fiction that plays out a sexual relationship between two characters that did not have a romantic relationship in the original canon work, romantic fanfiction story lines concerning Harry Potter, for those that are interested, can be found here. A lot of homosexual fan fiction exists that pairs same sex couples, this is known as slash for male pairings and femmeslash for female pairings. A list of abbreviations and fanfiction jargon can be found here.

“fan fiction emerges from a balance between fascination and frustration.” (Henry Jenkins)
A lot of fan fiction seeks to fill in gaps left by the original creator. Henry Jenkins, whose blog can be found here claims that this comes from fascination and frustration. When a high level of fascination is met with an even higher level of frustrating elements in a text, elements that are undeveloped, fans seek to satisfy this frustration. Fans can become so enthralled by a text that they want more and seek to absorb as much as they can, which can lead to frustration when scenes are missing or skipped over or when the information a fan is looking for takes places outside the chronology of the canon story. This leads to fan fiction that seeks to ease this frustration and fill in the blanks, these are often referred to as canon stories, meaning they don’t change any fundamental elements of the canon work. They are stories that provide information left out by the author but in a plausible, chronological manner. These type stories could even be inserted into many books and it would still flow well.

Fan fiction as a separate entity? Yet it could not exist without the original canon. Fan fiction can deviate so far from the original work that it can in itself become its own separate entity. Work that is out of copyright can be reworked and published as its own original work. Most recently Pride Prejudice and Zombies hit shelves with the co-authors listed equally as Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, who has also released works such as Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.

Many fans can not only feel loyal to a text but can begin to feel a certain ownership over it, a level of expectancy and responsibility is placed on the creator to maintain the integrity of the text. if an author decides to do something that is completely out of character within a novel or movie then fans may reject this. Can we imagine a Harry Potter who joined the death eaters. But in most instances fans will remain loyal to the original creator. So are fanfiction writers wasting their time? No matter how good fan fiction is, again henry Jenkins points out that fans will remain loyal to the canonical author, even if unhappy with a story. If a fan writes a better version, regardless of quality it will be considered lesser than the original. In rare cases work done by someone other than the original creator will be accepted as canon. Interestingly it seems when someone is considered to have the right pedigree or cultural knowledge of the works, their work may be accepted. Such as Christopher Tolkien continuing much of J.R.R Tolkien’s unfinished work posthumously. Books such as unfinished tales and the history of middle earth have been compiled by Christopher, and while based on his father’s notes it would be impossible for the finished piece to truly represent exactly what his father would have wanted; but it is accepted as canon. While this isn’t exactly fan fiction, he did not create the original canon world and so like Fic writers he is expanding on his knowledge of the world and where he would like to see it go. While as the authors son it is easy to understand why his credibility is accepted it may still give hope to fanfiction writers.

Legality issues
“Nobody is sure whether fan fiction falls under current fair-use protections. Current copyright law simply doesn’t have a category for dealing with amateur creative expression.” (Henry Jenkins)
Legality and copyright issues surround fan fiction, some claim it’s intellectual theft while others such as Henry Jenkins claim it’s an interpretation and a critique of the original work. Fan fiction that is created not for profit but as a creative outlet is often deemed legal by fair use protections. Questions surround fanfiction such as is it plagiarism, or intellectual theft. How moral is it to use characters and worlds you did not create for your own work, is using someone else’s creative inspirations just hampering your own creativity and is it insulting to change someone else’s finished work. Many different opinions exist and The organisation for transformative works, which can be found here, is an organisation that argues for fanfiction under fair use as it claims it is a transformative work not a derivative work.

What the Authors think
Different authors have very different opinions on fan fiction. They vary from authors who not only condone fanfiction but embrace and get involved with it, to authors who condemn it completely. An author who fully supports fanfiction is the author of the Twilight series Stephenie Meyer. She has openly encouraged fanfiction and seeks to minimise frustrations people may have with undeveloped characters or storylines by providing passages and chapters that were removed from the novels in the editing process on her website which can be found here. She has also published books that fill in events that happen outside the chronology of the novel such as The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner. Other authors such as J.K Rowling have also openly condoned fanfiction. Authors like Anne Rice and George R.R Martin, author of the popular series A Song of Fire and Ice, are among those who strongly oppose fanfiction, and believe it to be copyright infringement. George R.R. Martin has been very vocal on his abhorrence to fanfiction and states that “Consent, for me, is the heart of this issue. If a writer wants to allow or even encourage others to use their worlds and characters, that’s fine. Their call. If a writer would prefer not to allow that… well, I think their wishes should be respected.” (George R.R. Martin) He feels authors should protect their copyright or it can be assumed as abandoned, and once you begin to make exceptions you cannot control how far it will go “Once you open that door, you can’t control who might come in” (George R.R. Martin). He speaks of one such writer Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of the darkover series, who’s experience with fan fiction led to her current novel in progress not being published as a fan had had the same idea. George R.R. Martin’s reaction to fanfiction and the Marion Zimmer Bradley story can be read here.

By Stephanie Reed


Jenkins, Henry. Confessions of an Aca-Fan the official web log of Henry Jenkins.

Martin, George R.R. This is not a blog, Someone is Angry on the Internet.

Examining the Ways in Which Children Read Online

My personal project was all about examining the ways in children learn to read and read online and how they use technology to do so. Reading nowadays is becoming more and more interactive by the second, the website Pottermore is a prime example of that (discussed in my blog). It is sites like Pottermore that got me interested in this topic in the first place. Interactive stories are fast becoming commonplace, children are now used to being able to get into and explore the story they are reading. Through my personal project I look to examine the different ways this is possible online and with technologies as well as delving into the effect technology and the internet have not only on story time but on how a child learns to read.

To get the full benefit of the interactive ways in which children are learning today the child must first learn to read. That is where sites like Reading Eggs come in, they provide a fun, interactive, bright and encouraging environment through which the child can progress and improve their reading skills. The important thing to note about sites like Reading Eggs is that they are one-on-one exercises with the child and progress along at the child’s required pace. The child is encouraged to learn to read so they can explore and meet more and more of the world and the characters living within these worlds that are provided for the children by the site itself. To the child it feels like they are playing a game, and without realising they are learning one of the most important skills they will ever learn.

There are other sites that provide a child with instruction on how to improve their reading, sites like the TumbleBookLibrary and Storyline Online provide the child with read along books that the child can just enjoy as a story by itself or as a tool for teaching timing, proper phrasing and how to use emotion or inflection when reading out loud. These sites have their own individual spins on the ways in which the story is read along, for example, Storyline Online has famous actors read the story along with the child, the TumbleBookLibrary gives the child the option of clicking on a word and having that word sounded out for them so they can try and read the story by themselves.

Sites like Storyline Online, TumbleBookLibrary and Reading Eggs are important to children an they’re great for them. They provide a fun and most importantly encouraging environment for the child to practice their reading at their own pace and how they like to do it. For example, with the TumbleBookLibrary the child could choose to read the story all by themselves at first and just click on words if they need help with it or they can have the electronic voice read the book for them first and then give it a go themselves. The child is in complete control of he or she wants to learn to read.

Technology is very fast becoming a very important when teaching children to read. It is very important to note that no technology could replace a teacher in a classroom but these tools are incredibly beneficial to both student and teacher for a number of reasons. In my blog entitled “Technology and Teaching Children to Read” I discuss the most important “building blocks” when it comes to a child learning to read and I then talk about the ways in which technology is used to enhance these building blocks. This is still a very small field, with not much research being conducted in the area. Hopefully, with the speed in which technology has development over the last few decades it won’t be long before every classroom has the type of technology that can really benefit a child when they are learning to read.

Of course, technology and the internet isn’t just there for beginner or struggling readers, existing and avid readers can also take advantage of it to enhance their reading experience. Pottermore is the main example I use for this new type of transmedia storytelling. Through the Pottermore site the reader is among other things, able to explore the world they’ve read so much about and interact with other readers in ways they have only imagined. The reading experience has now become interactive. Not only can a reader literally explore the world they are reading about but Pottermore is also providing them with the ability to create parts of it themselves, through the whole idea of Fan Fiction. Readers are now encouraged to step out of that role and become the participators in the story they so dearly love.



As expected, all this is not without its problems though. There is serious debate about what the future holds for the physical, traditional book.  Will all this technology make the print world obsolete? As well as that threat, with sites like Pottermore and Storyline Online being offered for free to readers, how will big, online book retailers react?  All of this and more is discussed in my blog and I really hope you enjoy reading it!



Liu, Alan. “Imagining the New Media Encounter.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell DTD, 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2012

Price, Kenneth M. “Electronic Scholarly Editions.” A Companion to Digital Literary Studies. Blackwell DTD, 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2012

News articles online:

Humphrey, Michael. “Pottermore Expert Explains How Harry Potter’s Website Will Transform Storytelling”.Forbes,29th July 2011. Web. 10th March 2012

“Rowling Looking Into Harry Potter E-Books”.ABCNews,4th April 2011. Web. 20 Mar 2012

Press Releases:

Rowling, J.K. J.K. Rowling Announces Pottermore. London. 23rd June 2011. Web. 10th March 2012


Youtube Videos:

kolander2. “James Earl Jones Reads ‘To Be A Drum’ for kids”. Online Posting. Youtube, 21st April 2011. Web. 9th March 2012

RocknLearn. “Read Along Stories Sample Clip”.Online Posting. Youtube, 19th November 2009. Web. 9th March 2012

The Evolution of Shakespeare- By Leah Murtagh O’ Connell

The aim of this research project is, carrying on from my blog, to show how sixteenth century music would have affected Shakespeare’s writing and also to show how Shakespeare is reinterpreted in the modern age. Firstly, I will look at Shakespeare as a playwright, the Globe Theatre and how music was used in his plays. Secondly I will look at how Shakespeare has been interpreted in today’s modern world. I will deal with the transformation and interpretation of Shakespeare whilst also looking at the special relationship Shakespeare has with music.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on approximately April 26th 1564; the precise date is unclear as there is no birth record to base it on. During his career Shakespeare wrote ten histories, ten tragedies, seventeen comedies, and a vast array of poetry. In today’s society these works are usually read by a person and on very rare occasions read aloud. This, however, was not the intention for Shakespeare’s work, his plays were first and foremost to be performed; later as a means of generating revenue they were published in play format but the main purpose of the plays was to be performed. Without performance the true meaning and beauty of Shakespeare is lost.  Taking the well know speech from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:Act2, Scene 1

“But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.” (Bate, 1696”)

Simply reading the text is not enough, to understand what Shakespeare was trying to ascertain it is important to see the play performed. Methods of teaching today force children in classrooms to read Shakespeare, naturally the children never grow to appreciate Shakespeare because they are forced to read something that was destined to be performed.

For Shakespeare and the sixteenth century audience there was no better place to see the plays performed than the Globe Theatre. Built in 1599 by the Lord Chamberlain’s men (a theatre company) it subsequently burned to the ground in 1613 but work began rebuilding it on the same spot in 1614. This open air theatre could hold up to three thousand spectators and was the home of Shakespeare’s plays.

Shakespeare’s musical influences at the time included Robert Johnson, Olando Gibbons and William Byrd( who I will talk about in more detail later in this piece) These were classical composers who wrote music for both the voice and instruments. The instruments available to composers at the time were a little different to our modern ones. The sixteenth century orchestra consisted of four main groups: string, wind, percussion and keyboard; it did not have a brass section like our modern orchestras. The instruments were also different ranging from the Lute, Harp, Viols and Hurdy-Gurdy to the Sacbut, Lizard, Gemshorn and Hautboy.  The instrument which I feel gives sixteenth century music it’s undeniable tone is the harpsichord: a keyboard instrument played similarly to a piano but which has a very distinct sound.

William Byrd was a sixteenth century composer responsible for some of the most harmonious music of that century. Born in 1539, Byrd went on to have seven children. As well as being a composer he was an organist and a choir master. Among his highly acclaimed legacy is the noted ‘Ave Verum Corpus’; a piece that epitomises sixteenth century composition.

This was the style of music that Shakespeare was hearing while writing his work; undoubtedly influencing him as ‘His fairies, His witches, and sometimes his ghosts, were especially associated with music’(Scholes 2). The three witches that feature in Macbeth are the most widely known example of Shakespeare directly creating musical characters. This tale, synonymous with Halloween, is once again suitably appreciated when performed.

Macbeth Act4, Scene1

A dark Cave. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.

Enter the three Witches.

Witch 1:  Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
Witch 2 : Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
Witch 3:  Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
Witch 1:  Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
       ALL:.  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
Witch 2.  Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
All:  Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble. (Bate, 1895)

This is an adaptation of the witches song taken from ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

 There are productions of Shakespeare happening all over the world, probably even one right now. My favourite modern adaptation of Shakespeare is ‘Kiss me, Kate’ from 1948, it has music and lyrics by Cole Porter and is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘The Taming of The Shrew’

As well as serious adaptations of Shakespeare the internet is dotted with fun filled skits which play up the funny and musical side of Shakespeare. So for your enjoyment I present ‘The Othello Rap’

Although the playwright died in 1613 his legacy lives on. Having contributed so much to the plethora of English theatre, his work stands alone as the Sparkling gem of literature. Having been interpreted and reinterpreted throughout the ages shows the various intriguing influences and attributes of Shakespeare’s work. Even though there are hundreds of varying versions in the world one thing is for certain, Shakespeare’s work lives on as some of the paramount literature to date.


Bate, Jonathan & Rasmussen, Eric, eds. William Shakespeare Complete Works London: Macmillan,2008.

Scholes, Pery A. “The Purpose Behind Shakespeare’s use of Music” Proceedings of the Musical Association 43 (1916-17) 1-15.



Digital Autofiction


Autofiction (Photo credit: Bjørn Giesenbauer)

Autofiction is a term generally associated with contemporary French authors. It was “invented” by Serge Doubrovsky in 1977 in relation to his novel“Fils where he sums it up perfectly as a way of “selling” an autobiography,  making it attractive to the public without playing the “grand-homme-au-soir de la vie”.When using Autofiction  an author may chooses to write an account of his life in the third person where he modifies significant details or characters using fiction as the narrative self.  Author, character and narrator are one and often we find that using Autofictional practice authors  retain their real name and persona while venturing into an imaginary life. The term has come to represent a new direction where the lines of fiction and nonfiction have been erased.  The site  features articles which discuss the genre, specific works and contemporary French authors such as Anne Wiezemsky, Catherine Miller, Olivia Rosenthal and Michel Houellebecq find literary freedom within the genre.  Doubrovsky claims that is gives authors the freedom of language in their writings…  “To have entrusted the language of an adventure… then create the adventure of language, outside the wisdom and the syntax of the novel, you have created something concrete” Today Autofiction  has become  a multifaceted nature of writing, breaking all preconceived notions of how to narrate “ sincerity and fiction, reality and truth”

In regards to truth, fiction and lying, the dictionary defines lying as “the deliberate act  of deviating from the truth” ( ), but fiction is considered to be an “imaginative creation or a pretense that does not represent actuality, but has been invented” Therfore Autofiction   is fiction and not a lie because the reader is aware of the genre (autofiction  generally on the cover of the novel) and that  what they are reading deviates from the truth. They are  aware that the elements in the novel are a mix of fiction and autobiography and  only the author really knows what is truth and fiction.

Autofiction is omnipresent in all present-day media, particularly on the Internet.The most prominent genre of visual autofiction today on the internet is the net working phenomenon that is MySpace which is all about the creation of an image for the owner of the profile.unlike the literary variant which was all about the novel,  sites such as  MySpace are all about  the creation of the image of the profile owner.  Users may construct different profiles for themselves such as dance-divas, travel-gurus or pin-up girls. They may present

themselves as vampire slayers or werewolves all in the name of identity creation and escapism.

Identity creation is nothing  new to us and it does seem to be a part of human nature.  From the Renaissance to the Victorian, class-structures dictated one’s social identity, taste in art, music, social circle and status. Today identity formation is a choice of self-fashioned creation. Users can choose freely the role models they wish to present themselves, thus making Identity less of a given and more of a constructed reality.  Millions of young people who are creating their identities are taking to these internet  sites in the form of MySpace, blogging and tweeting and reinventing themselves in this cyber playground. A truly hijacked profile may still function as a real profile because of the space it inhabits.  The expression …“what cannot be found on the Internet does not exist” (Peters) may have seemed a bit farfetched at one time but is  proving  true, as the net–variant of Autofiction is far surpassing the literary variety and growing exponentially.

Image representing Mixi as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Across the globe young, across language and culture Autofiction is taking hold and  particularly in Japan. The reason Autofiction is  popular in Japan is the same reason Facebook is not. Japanese culture frowns on self-promotion  and standing outside the crowd.  Japanese blog sites rarely show identity photos and an exploration of Mixi, the Japanese equivalent to Facebook, show  profile faces  presented as cartoon characters, stars, warlords, constellations and kittens.” Autofiction is the playground for these self-fashioned identities.  Profiles which are “untrue” or which do not present accurate profile photos, names, pictures and  demographic descriptions, can only be seen as playful and not lies, deceit or fraud. These “anti- profiles” partake in the community of MySpace or Mixi template and therefore identity and  truth status are  shared. occasionally the truthfulness of a profile is questioned and the reader may well be surprised to discover it is a complete counterfeit and  reader can never be certain what is real and what is not. This  is the attraction of the genre of Autoficion.

What is reality but a concept which hovers in between spaces.  Spaces where star-phenomenon, geisha girls,  artists, fashion designers are all examples of self –fashioned identity creations. These self-created personalities are signatories of  the “Autofictional contract” between sender and reader where anything goes. In between the two poles of truthfulness and falseness the majority of us dwell and the “about me” is fast becoming  our space of inquisitive indulgence.

My Essay on Narrative gaming

In this piece of work I will write about my opinion of narrative gaming. For research I have looked at work from bloggers and game developers. All the games I write about I have played extensively. I will begin with looking at the development of gaming from its humble beginnings in 1972 with Pong up to 2011 with Uncharted. My main argument as always will be that game narrative is a vital part of the game, and that games tell stories well.

If you are a gamer you will notice that they have come a long way from Atari’s Pong in 1972. To look at the start of game narrative we must first remember the ten words that infuriate every gamer in the English speaking world “Thank you Mario, But our princess is in another castle” however poor the narrative was and given the level of graphics available, Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers had a narrative nonetheless which is more that can be said for some big name games today. However, it seems that a game which has a good narrative is not enough and mindless games seem, to ‘out do’ masterpieces in profit margins. To understand this we look at Super Mario Brothers to start with as this was line recited to Mario every time he would beat King Kopa, now Bowser, in one of his many castles. It was repetitive but its fair to say that it worked.  Super Mario Brothers was the formula that made a game great – it had a narrative, and good game play for its time so much so that in 2010 Nintendo brought out New Super Mario Brothers on the Wii which did quite well. If you can call us scholars, and perhaps we are just die-hard gamers, we have argued that Super Mario Brothers is the real start of gaming and it has received IGN’s best game of all time spot. It’s hard to disagree with IGN in that respect. It is the Citizen Kane of games. However, narrative fed the game, the player was playing to save The Princess. Nintendo did try to improve this repetitive narrative in Super Mario Brothers 2 which, as  most gamers will tell you, was a flop in the gaming world. The narrative was there but the game play was not.   This  in-turn lead to most gamers favorite game Super Mario Brothers 3. Super Mario Brothers 3 saw the return of the repetitive narrative  the game, it can be argued, sounded the death knell for Sega and the Sonic franchise. Even when Sega would try to come back with the Mega-Drive however, Nintendo would hit back with a rerelease of the three Mario games (Super Mario All-Stars) and the masterpiece of 2D gaming which was Super Mario world (which is still regarded as the best game to ever be released on the “snes”). What I’m saying here is the combination of a narrative and good game play lead to The Super Mario Brothers long stint at the top as it applied to the right generation at the right time. This being said it is not only Mario  that had a story. It has long since been argued that Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 2005 IGN ranked it a number two as the second best game of all time beaten to the number one spot be Mario. IGN said:

Considered by many critics to be the greatest game ever made, Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is one of only a handful of games to receive a perfect IGN rating. The masterpiece, which stars hero Link in both child and teenage form, helped pave the way for 3D adventure games, but it will likely be remembered and adored for two other reasons: first, it reinvented Nintendo’s famed Zelda franchise and actually made it better. And second, it showed Nintendo 64 fans and the larger video-game community that as revolutionary and pretty as Super Mario 64 was, Nintendo still had some serious magic in its hefty bag of tricks. Ocarina of Time is an epic undertaking shining with tight control, ingenious level design and intuitive play mechanics. It remains one of the all-time most innovative adventure outings to date( 

This game is considered a masterpiece of its time it was story telling at its best and paved the way for future block buster games like Metal Gear SolidFall Out and Uncharted. The ability to control time in the game was new and innovative I believe this is where the “wait” feature developed in the Bethesda studios line of games. I remember watching people play this game and my amazement at the fact the player knew where other game characters were at any given time. This control of space and time in the playing environment was completely revolutionary. However, Nintendo’s time at the top was brief and ended with Sony breaking into the gaming world. Sony had game narratives like no other and movie star characters that were idolized by the gaming world. No longer were people playing games for the game play but to see what happened to their favorite characters. These characters became household names, Lara CroftDuke Nukem, Solid snake and Nathan Drake to name a few. Developers of narrative games saw that, like Nintendo, consumers wanted to follow a character moreover these consumers were people who grew up with Mario but were too old for him. This game character came in the form of the 6 foot  tall, athletic and very beautiful Lara Croft. Every teenager’s desire, Lara broke the mould of game characters. She did not just appear on game magazines but on mens magazines she is the first computer generated female to be requested to appear in men’s magazines.  The level of interactivity, the design, and the immersive quality of the game play engaged legions of new fans. Because of Tomb Raider we forgot about Mario and Sonic for the mass expanding worlds,  places like China, Alaska and South America.

The thing game developers seem to not understand at times is that there are two generations of gamers. There is the narrative gamer from the Nintendo generation who has moved from Mario to Drake and the somewhat mindless gamer of the x-box generation. We narrative gamers are starved for a game with a story, but the problem is that most game creators cannot write game stories (Daniel Floyd). When looking at writing a story you should write what you know yet most game designers although able to utilize graphics well they are all the same.   They are mostly inspired by very specific media. It has been argued by many bloggers, quite sarcastically though it may be true that most game developers  have read one book and seen one movie (Ken Levine). Therefore you get games that may resemble a quest to destroy an item of jewellery or defeat a dark lord of some sort!  They are predicated on tropes that persist in the fantasy genre only.

This is not to say that narrative is not ‘growing’. One must remember that game developers would love to produce games with story lines like Inception or Sherlock Holmes but it is also hard for game writers to write stories that the player does not just watch but takes part in. There are games out there that do force the player to delve into the narrative. These games normally fall in two categories there is the linear game and the nonlinear. The nonlinear games seem to hit a home run where game play is concerned and games like Fall out, the Elder Scrolls series, and Grand Theft Auto allow the player the option to find the story in its open world in their own time. When we get to the linear games we get great game play but sometimes a short narrative that really has no point. There are some great narratives in linear games including Metal Gear Solid and Uncharted.

Greg Costikyan, a blogger, argues that games cannot tell a story like cinema, books or music can. Obviously I would argue against this. Today video games tell intricate stories. Moreover games are still at a young stage in their development – only forty years old. If we look at the beginning of cinema up to its present state,  the time it took to get from the Lumiere brothers first films in 1895 to Michael Bay’s Transformers 2007 is 112 years. Whereas we look at the release of Pong in 1972 and only 35 years later, also in 2007, were met with Assassins Creed which brought games from Pong to Assassins Creed. I believe that narrative is a vital part of gaming and that games when developed correctly have the ability to tell great stories. I disagree with bloggers like Costikyan who argue that narrative seems not to belong in gaming.


  1. Ernest Adams, “Three Problems For Interactive Storytellers,” Gamasutra,
  2. Jesper Juul, “A Clash Between Games and Narrative,” paper presented at the Digital Arts and Culture Conference, Bergen, November 1998, For a more recent formulation of this same argument, see Jesper Juul, “Games Telling Stories?”, Game Studies,
  3. Markku Eskelinen, “The Gaming Situation,” Game Studies,
  4. Henry Jenkins, “Game Design as Narrative Architecture”, Henry Jenkins, pub. Web.
  5. Greg Costikyan, “Where Stories End and Games Begin,” Game Developer, September 2000, pp. 44-53.
  6. IGN Top 100. 2005. Web.
  7. .Web.
  8. Ken Levine (game developer). Web.
  9. Christopher Nolan. Inception. Warner Brothers. 2010. Web.
  10. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes. 1887. Web
  11. Michael Bay. Transformers. Dream works. 2007. Web
  12. Daniel Floyd. kirithem’s channel. Youtube. 2006. Web

Youtube videos

Please note all videos are not edited by me and are directly linked back to their source.

  1. Naughty dog.Uncharted 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  2. Bethsoft. Fallout. youtube. 2010. Web. 01 March 2012
  3. Naughty dog. Uncharted 2. youtube. 2009. Web. 01 March 2012
  4. Ubi Soft. Assassins Creed. youtube. 2007. Web. 01 March 2012
  5. Nintendo. Super mario. youtube. 1985. Web. 01 March 2012
  6. Nintendo. Super mario brothers 3. youtube. 1988. Web. 01 March 2012
  7. Nintendo. Super mario world. youtube. 1990. Web. 01 March 2012
  8. Nintendo. The Legend of Zelda. youtube. 1998. Web. 01 March 2012
  9. Konami. Metal Gear Solid. youtube. 1998. Web. 01 March 2012
  10. Bethsoft. Fallout 3. youtube. 2008. Web. 01 March 2012
  11. Edios.Tomb Raider. youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  12. 3D Realms. Duke Nukem. youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  13. The hardy bucks. The viper’s MW3 video. youtube. 2011. Web. 01 March 2012
  14. Web. 01 March 2012

Click here for websites used on narrative Gaming.