Videogames and print culture

Last Friday, I gave a presentation with my friend and collaborator Shawn LameBull to the English department on the significance and complexity of videogames as media. (Here’s an audio recording of the presentation, and here’s a link to the Prezi “slideshow” that accompanied it.) Afterward, Dr. Kirk McAuley, a professor in the department, ruminated on some of our claims on Facebook, and his ruminations generated quite a lengthy discussion that involved several of the department’s professors.  Here’s my response to this thread, which has grown so large that it’d be unwieldy over on Facebook.

First of all, I’m flattered that my colloquium has occasioned this discussion. Trying to figure out the “connections / disconnections between videogame and print culture” has been the biggest challenge of the last four years for me, as I’ve gone from studying literature to videogames. It’s also been the biggest challenge of the game studies field, which is full of English majors but also a lot of folks from other disciplines. Ultimately, establishing what videogames have taken from older media and what new things they offer is beneficial for both books and games, because it gives us an appreciation for the capabilities of each medium. And for its scholars too.

Well, what are the differences between novels and videogames? Patty’s right: we need definitions. So here are a few that have helped me make the distinction.

Story: Any account of actions in a time sequence; any narrative of events in a sequential arrangement. (William Harmon and C. Hugh Holman, A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed.)

Game: a rule-based system with a variable and quantifiable outcome, where different outcomes are assigned different values, the player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome, the player feels emotionally attached to the outcome, and the consequences of the activity are negotiable (Jesper Juul, Half-Real).

The first definition is clear enough, but the second might need some unpacking. Juul does this himself, though I fill in where he’s vague (in italics):

Rules:  Games are rule-based. Game rules govern actions players can and can’t take in the context of playing the game.

Variable, quantifiable outcome: Games have variable, quantifiable outcomes. Games can end differently; the player can win or lose.

Valorization of outcome: The different potential outcomes of the game are assigned different values, some positive and some negative.

Player effort: The player exerts effort in order to influence the outcome. [This is ] another way of stating that games are challenging, or that games contain a conflict.

Player attached to outcome: The player is emotionally attached to the outcome of the game in the sense that a player will be winner and “happy” in case of a positive outcome, but a loser and “unhappy” in the case of a negative outcome.

Negotiable consequences: The same game (set of rules) can be played with or without real-life consequences.

Defining story and game is essential because while a novel contains only stories, a videogame contains both stories and games (or many do – the ones I study, at least).  When you’re moving your avatar across the map, solving puzzles and killing Nazis and so forth, you’re playing a game: you’re trying to achieve an objective, and you’re overcoming conflicts to get there. But when your character appears in a cutscene, or when you read about your character’s backstory, you’re receiving a narrative.

Where videogames get especially tricky is in the ways they combine their stories and games. Videogames convey their stories just like other storytelling media: they contain written stories that we read, movies we watch, radio plays we listen to. But they often intersperse stories with games, and in a variety of ways. Some games parcel out story parts in between periods of gameplay: get to the end of the level, and hear the story of the princess you’ve saved. The player embodies a character in these stories (usually the protagonist), so he has the formally odd but experientially immersive experience of hearing stories about actions he’s just completed. Some videogames will recount a story while the player is playing a game – usually an audio story, like a radio play – thus confusing the story/game distinction even further. And some videogames – the ones I’m most interested in – will change their stories’ plots because of actions the player takes. Imagine a “Choose your own adventure” story, but far more complicated.

Now, the reader/player/audience agency issue. Agency is a loaded word for us academics, what with all its different definitions; but I’m going to leave it alone here, both for space and for my sense of what we’re really talking about here: interactivity. We often say videogames (and all digital media) are unique because they’re interactive, but as Kirk points out, readers interact with novels too. I’ve found this taxonomy of types of interactivity very useful:

Mode 1: Cognitive Interactivity; or Interpretive Participation with a Text

This is the psychological, emotional, hermeneutic, semiotic, reader-response, Rashomon-effect-ish, etc. kind of interactions that a participant can have with the so-called ‘content’ of a text. Example: you reread a book after several years have passed and you find it’s completely different than the book you remember.

Mode 2: Functional Interactivity; or Utilitarian Participation with a Text. Included here: functional, structural interactions with the material textual apparatus. That book you reread: did it have a table of contents? An index? What was the graphic design of the pages? How thick was the paper stock? How large was the book? How heavy? All of these characteristics are part of the total experience of reading interaction.

Mode 3: Explicit Interactivity; or Participation with Designed Choices and Procedures in a Text

This is ‘interaction’ in the obvious sense of the word: overt participation such as clicking the nonlinear links of a hypertext novel, following the rules of a Surrealist language game, rearranging the clothing on a set of paper dolls. Included here: choices, random events, dynamic simulations, and other procedures programmed into the interactive experience.

Mode 4: Meta-interactivity; or Cultural Participation with a Text

This is interaction outside the experience of a single text. The clearest examples come from fan culture, in which readers appropriate, deconstruct, and reconstruct linear media, participating in and propagating massive communal narrative worlds.  (Eric Zimmerman, “Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games: Four Naughty Concepts in Need of Discipline.”)

Given these classifications, it’s obvious that both novels and videogames engender types 1, 2, and 4. Explicit interactivity is where videogames innovate and shine – players have to make active choices and enact specific procedures in order to get to the end of a videogame. To win it.

For me and Shawn, the key part of Zimmerman’s definition of explicit interactivity is the phrase “designed choices and procedures,” because it gets at the most important question that we ask of a videogame we’re analyzing: what are the procedures the authors want us to enact? What can’t we enact? Furthermore, as Kirk and Patty discuss around the middle of the thread, how much can players subvert the procedures that the authors design for them? (You’re right, Patty: cheat codes and mods are a couple of ways players do this. Maybe this is where player agency really exists, if we define agency as the ability to alter a text to our own ends.)

Interpreted in the context of a videogame’s stories and story parts (setting, characters, dialogue, etc.), as well as the gameplay goals, the procedures a game allows and prohibits are symbolic and value-laden. A lot of the time, they represent procedures in the material world.  Combine those procedural rhetorics with all of the visual, aural, spatial, and linguistic rhetorics of a given game, and read those in the larger contexts of representations in other videogames and films and novels and so forth, and you have some understanding of a videogame’s meaning as a text.

So are videogames shallow? Am I shallow for studying them?  The answer’s obvious to me, and you can imagine my personal reaction to Aaron’s comment. However, we’re speaking at slightly cross purposes: Aaron is (I’m presuming) referring to the content of videogames, and I’ve been talking about their form. I’ll freely admit that no videogame I’ve seen has conveyed the intellectual or psychological depth of Proust. Maybe they never will – every medium has its strengths and weaknesses.  Videogames’ main strength thus far is in modeling complex systems, as well as actions and consequences within them. I think there’s deep rhetorical potential there. As for the depth of their stories, give them time: they’re only about a generation old, you know.

Oh, and Todd: we’re working on it.

18 comments

  1. Riley Mahler says:

    Shakespeare. Considered by many to be the best literature ever written. But how was this literature presented? Through which medium? Obviously, Shakespeare wrote plays. These were demonstrated through an audio/visual medium. Shakespeare’s works were performed. So, one may then ask, are movies literature? They are comprised of a script, so to some varying degree they can be read the same way as a Shakespeare may be. This then leads me to games. Games are very similar to movies, only with the exception of player interactivity. This player interactivity is defined through Juuls’s perceptions of rules and outcomes, and so forth—essentially this interactivity is a quantifiable outcome of a win-lose binary and the player’s role in reaching that outcome. Games most certainly are designed with scripts, play Mass Effect or Dragon Age: Origins and this will not be denied. Games, however, give the player the option to choose different paths along that script. As Chris points out, games often times have a narration or cut scene of some form that leads into the action of game play, then finally concluding with some other form of narration that ties in the action one just performed. A game is simply an evolving story guided by the rules of the game designer and programmer. I remember as a child reading Goosebump books that had alternate endings, or varying paths to the end result. “If you want Alice to look through the mirror turn to page 49.” “If you want Neo to take the blue pill instead of the red pill turn to page 237.” How is this different from choices made in a game? I will not say games are novels, for that claim would be ardently invalid, but it cannot be denied that games have elements (and quite a significant amount at that) of narration and story. If we can appreciate Shakespeare—who wrote plays, not books—as one of the most prolific and exceptional writers to ever exist, then why can we not appreciate games as a form of literature?

    The comment that stated game studies is an excuse to play games is such an arrogant and hypocritical remark that is so utterly closed-minded that I am amazed that any “scholar” would make that assumption. Is not Literature studies simply an excuse to read books? Is not studying Mathematics simply an excuse to enjoy the puzzles of equations? Obviously, we should work on subjects that we enjoy. One can apply literature studies with real life instances. One can apply mathematics and solve real life problems. Why can’t one can apply game studies to cultural and rhetorical studies? Are not games becoming a more and more prevalent form of media? Is it not worth looking at the social implications of the world’s fastest growing media? The philosophical studies of Nietzsche and Proust are important, yes, studying these shows the evolution of thought. But the ideas of most ancient/old philosophers are by now obsolete in real world application. Studying philosophy essentially serves as a looking-mirror to the past. You use philosophy to analyze a culture or society. Can games not be used for the same purpose?

  2. Todd says:

    Given #3, explicit interactivity, will the canon of videogames be inevitably influenced by the mass popularity (as measured in units sold or # of on-line participants) of any particular game? Will mass popularity become a pre-requisite?

    Because that’s not necessarily the case for literature–I can think of any number of texts just from my period that have been canonized and were not popular (if even circulated) during their day.

    (Oh, and the other part of my question pointed to a bit nastier business. Part of canonizing is also excluding. Are folks doing game studies willing to exclude the study of X or Y game as “not worthy” of “serious” analysis? Or is everything fair game? Because if it’s the latter, for better or for worse, that’s where some folks might sniff their own noses.)

    • c.ritter says:

      Todd:

      Not necessarily. Like all popular media, videogames exist in a complex whose engine is capitalism, so the big-budget (we say “triple-A”) products, with the biggest marketing campaigns, get lots of attention, from the public and the academy alike. That’s certainly been true of World of Warcraft. Actually, I see mass popularity as a good reason to study a game; marketing aside, the most popular texts are popular because they hit cultural nerves, and I want to know what those nerves are. Plus, AAA games are usually the most polished and complex, and offer a lot to chew on.

      That all being said, a lot of us left-leaning academics look upon the corporation-dominated mainstream through narrowed eyes; we enjoy undermining it and championing others who do so. There aren’t a lot of articles on Halo or Solitaire, despite their popularity, because we generally deem them as too simplistic or derivative. The games industry has already developed its own independent sector, with a lot of clever, low-budget, small-distribution games that attempt bolder stories and gameplay than the AAAs are willing to try. We like those. We also like outfits like the Games for Learning Institute and the Serious Games Initiative, which study and make games with non- or counter-hegemonic messages. There have been a handful of videogame histories published lately, and the ones I’ve seen have been extremely thorough at discussing games that didn’t achieve mass popularity alongside the ones that did.

  3. Kirk says:

    Excellent response, Chris – As I continue to think about this, what concerns me most is how the ‘procedural elements’ of a videogame might be used to condition, cultivate or instill particular mindsets, sociopolitical values, etc. (especially since your presentation highlighted the racist elements in WOW). For me, as someone who studies 18th-century print culture (novels, newspapers, etc.) this makes the question of subversion extremely important. And, of course, this is precisely what I think makes your work valuable (you & Shawn both deserve high praise for taking the game designers / game industry to task for sponsoring racist ideologies, etc. – at least, this is what I understand your work to be doing – but correct me if I’m wrong).

    Also, I don’t want to give the impression that I think novels are necessarily liberating (they also condition & cultivate particular mindsets, political views, etc.) – but, as a reader, I’m under no obligation to follow the author’s lead (this is where the question of persuasion comes in, right?). And so, my final question – is it possible for the ‘procedural elements’ (rules) of a videogame to be rhetorical if one must follow them? Is there an element of persuasion if one has no choice but to follow the game’s rules? I guess I need to know more about these cheat codes; but a videogame strikes me as fundamentally different from a printed text in this particular regard (readers must be persuaded to follow an author’s so-called procedural recommendations). And, again, I’m not talking about interpretation of content &/or the representational elements of a text, per say – but the very process of reading / how we read (silently, aloud, forwards, backwards, disjunctively, etc.) Of course, how we choose to read a text can certainly influence our interpretation of it. (And, please note: I’m obviously not a rhetorician, so I apologize if I’m using the term rhetoric in either a mistaken, or mistakenly limited sense.)

    I also wonder, is it possible when playing a videogame that we may never encounter all the game’s elements (either procedural or representational)? This might be another important distinction . . .

    Again, thanks for inspiring an interesting conversation. Excellent response!
    K

    • c.ritter says:

      I don’t want to give the impression that I think novels are necessarily liberating (they also condition & cultivate particular mindsets, political views, etc.) – but, as a reader, I’m under no obligation to follow the author’s lead (this is where the question of persuasion comes in, right?). And so, my final question – is it possible for the ‘procedural elements’ (rules) of a videogame to be rhetorical if one must follow them? Is there an element of persuasion if one has no choice but to follow the game’s rules?

      On one hand, if we look at games as simulations, they have great capacities for persuasion. They’re the only media I know of that can simulate meaningful actions and consequences. That’s especially true, since navigating them successfully (i.e., beating them) requires learning and mastering a certain set of functional skills.

      Then again, the persuasiveness of a game (or a novel) depends on how we define “following the author’s lead.” If a reader reads an entire novel from cover to cover, hasn’t s/he performed the procedures required to get through it, much as a player would perform a game’s required procedures in order to finish it? It’s entirely possible to consume the entire text and resist its messages. It’s also possible, with both media, to experience the text in a way the author didn’t design – to “cut-up, read backwards, forwards, discontinuously, etc.,” as you said over on FB, or to cheat, mod, or just play against the game’s rules. For instance, in the recent role-playing game Fallout 3, some players declared their goals with the game were to collect all of the teddy bears littered around the post-apocalyptic landscape rather than follow the game’s storyline. In World of Warcraft, players from the Alliance and Horde – two racially defined factions that are at war with each other – sometimes play cooperatively, even though the game’s rules discourage them from it.

      As far as reading/playing processes and content are concerned, I don’t think the two are really separable. Defying the author’s intended way of receiving the text inevitably means interpreting the text differently than the author intended. Procedural rhetorics are part of the total meaning of the text; change them, and change the text.

      I also wonder, is it possible when playing a videogame that we may never encounter all the game’s elements (either procedural or representational)?

      Yes, especially with the bigger, more complex games, which can take upwards of 100 hours to experience fully. That’s one of the most difficult, time-consuming things about studying games, actually. But hey: all scholarly work is a labor of love, no?

  4. Kirk says:

    just for the record – I’ve said over again that I think game studies is most valuable from the perspective of cultural studies; games can certainly be used to study culture – and I greatly appreciate the work that Chris & Shawn are doing (see my first contribution to this blog, re: taking game designers / the game industry to task for cultivating potentially racist ideologies).

    But, while a game may have literary qualities &/or representational elements in common with print culture (e.g., a novel) – and can be analyzed as such (& this is precisely what I said in my initial Facebook update) – this does not make it literature or, the term that I’ve been using, print culture. I don’t think this is a debatable claim – but, rather, a descriptive claim, one that highlights the fact that we’re talking about two distinct mediums. They may have elements in common – especially in terms of providing a useful lens through which we can analyze cultural values, etc. – but they’re also different, which is all that I ever intended to investigate w/ my initial post (inquiry) – namely, the connections and disconnections between video games & print culture.

    OK, this is my last contribution to this discussion for the time being, as I’m awfully busy right now . . .

    Again, thanks Chris.
    K

  5. Kirk says:

    quick note – my last post was written mainly in response to Riley’s questions . . . And, thanks Chris – for identifying a few ways in which players can subvert the game design.

    OK, seriously – this is my last contribution for the time being.
    K

  6. Kirk says:

    One last note (I’m not kidding this time) – I think I heard on NPR yesterday (it was broadcasting in the background) that there’s a new game coming out based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. Am I right? It may be worth investigating this game that purposely endeavors to bridge this gap that we’ve been debating . . .

    • c.ritter says:

      Yeah, from what I’ve seen of that game, it’s not so much “based on” as it’s “inspired by” the Divine Comedy – you’re in Hell, hacking and slashing through hordes of demons, trying to rescue a princess. The kind of game that adds ammo to the folks that see videogames as bad derivatives of literary works. However, the game’s official website has a nice Flash-based multimedia version of the original text, so that’s something.

  7. Riley Mahler says:

    Just to clarify, the second portion of my response was in no way directed towards Dr. McAuley. Instead, it was directed towards a rather snobbish remark left by someone from the Philosophy department.

    Now, in response to Dr. McAuley (not trying to draw you back in), games may not be considered literature yet, but I think in time they might be after they have been around for a while longer. While I steadfastly believe that games have an immense potential to transmit a rich and complex narrative, I also understand that games do not meet the definitions many people have for literature. For most, literature is something which must be print. That being said, I am currently taking a “Digital Storytelling” course taught by Rebecca Goodrich, where we are learning new ways to deliver stories via different medias. Essentially, we’re creating non-print narratives. These narratives are rather interesting, in that, one interacts with the narrative, but at the same time it is utterly sotry-/text-driven. These digital narratives (I’ll include a link to a good example below)seem to bridge the medias of video games, movies, and literature.

    As I said though, it’s probably too early to begin calling games literature. Games are just now becoming sophisticated enough to express a complex and driving narrative. Perhaps game designers will begin experimenting a bit with new models for their game designs. Just recently I stumbled upon a game called Midkemia Online, which was designed after Raymond Feist’s novels set in a fantasy realm similar to Tolkien’s. What makes this game interesting, though, is that it only uses text. There is no user-interface or heads-up-display. One simply reads what is written, and responds back with writing of his or her own. One must conjure up his or her own world and use his or her own imagination to play this game. It’s rather interesting. Anyways, this is an interesting discussion—and frankly only time will tell whether or not a game may be considered literature.

    http://www.inanimatealice.com/
    (An example of a digital story. Perhaps digital literature?)

  8. Z. J. Kendall says:

    I watched Riley’s posted Inanimate Alice, I found the experience wholly unenjoyable.

    I’m with Kirk in saying that what is not literature is not literature, and there is no reason to expand the definition of literature to include other things. Why would we? What is the motivation behind this? What is to gain by including video games or mutt-media in literature? Is a play script literature? Yes. Is a play performed literature? No. I think that any piece of media (movies, music, games) could be described as “literary”, that is, deep/learned/provoking-scholarly-study, but there are various forms of media and the term media is sufficient for them. We should NOT muddle with the definition of literature in order to include games (or plays or movies or music).

    I love literature. But I’m pretty standoffish towards literary studies. I’m often skeptical of the slight connections and conclusions that are drawn in texts. I do read works and wonder “What does this mean? or why did the author do that?” What is the purpose of literary studies? (That’s not a rhetorical question, want an answer). It seems to me that it’s main purpose is historical. At least in the past is where the focus tends to be. Perhaps that’s because the time has done part of the work of filtering texts, and scholars can then look at what is still standing and see how it interacted in its context, which is hard to do in real time. I know there is at least one Harry Potter scholar, I saw his analysis of, I think it was, Twilight. Also I don’t know where the line is between contemporary media critics and scholars. I guess the former is saying this piece is good or bad, and the latter is looking at how a piece is constructed and interacts with its culture?

    I have little experience in the field of literature studies, so much of this is just speculation. Um, well, I had some more thoughts, but they’re not cohesive so I’ll stop here.
    Cheers,
    Zachariah.

  9. Z. J. Kendall says:

    What sort of connections can be made between reader response theory and video games?

  10. Kirk says:

    I’m open to an expanded definition of literature (e.g., I enjoy introducing Eagleton’s What is Literature? to undergraduates); but – again – it’s print culture that I’m talking about here (I’m using the novel as an example – but print culture also includes broadsides, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, etc.) – and I’m also focusing on the procedural elements, though – as Chris rightly points out – form & content inform each other.

    So, please note: I’m not suggesting that a digital story ought not to be considered literature. I’m talking about the technology – print – used to re-present (or mechanically re-produce) literature, and how that technology enables or disables (encourages or discourages) modes of reading-interaction that (as Chris observes) necessarily impact our interpretation. Again, I’m talking about connections & disconnections between two mediums – print & on-line video games.

    Why can’t I resist contributing to this discussion? Good evening.
    K

  11. Riley Mahler says:

    To be perfectly honest, I didn’t really enjoy Inanimate Alice either, but I can also appreciate what it’s doing. Just because the content isn’t interesting to me, however, shouldn’t take away from what it is. I mean, let’s face it, Moby Dick was terrible too, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t literature.

    As for the modes of reading interaction between the two mediums—that could prove a wonderfully interesting study. Currently, much of our learning is done through literature, or a printed medium. How would games or an interactive media work pedagogically? I’m not the biggest gamer in the world, I’ll dabble in a game here and there, but I don’t religiously play them—but the games I have played, I have picked up on the rules and history behind the story of the game rather quickly. Probably more quickly than the learning I get in a classroom. Why is this? Obviously the government has been using games for quite some time as combat simulators and such. I even read an article that described how games heave been used to help cure PTSD in veterans returning from Iraq (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/05/19/080519fa_fact_halpern). My completely uneducated guess would be that games are effective tools for teaching because they offer such a strong sense of immersion. This is also why they are effective for helping veterans with PTSD, because they can immerse that person in war-like situations and slowly habituate the person to them.

    The most obvious field of study that I feel could benefit from games would be the teaching of language. To learn a language requires immersion. It’s one thing to read the vocabulary of Spanish in a book: banco, Iglesia, carro, perro, etc. But it would be a completely different thing to walk around in a simulated world, fully immersed in the culture. Seeing the signs that say banco, hearing an owner yell at his perro, or be asked if you are going the la Iglesia this Sunday by an avatar in the game. The language would surround the student in a real-life fashion. This language could also include different dialects or accents, which might further aid us in our learning. Video games are a fairly new media, only 40 or so years old—I feel as of now they are an untapped resource, especially given how many people play them. Also, given how games’ graphics and the engines that drive these games are becoming more advanced and complex, the immersion would be greatly enhanced because the games would appear to be an accurate representation of the actual world.

    Perhaps digital media and games will never be considered literature—personally it wouldn’t bother me much if they weren’t. But games do have an artistic quality to them, and because of this, games should not be simply rendered as child’s play and unworthy of academic research (once again directed at the snobbish remark of a person in the philosophy department). Dialectical conversations always yield the ripest fruit, and this topic has a lot of room for such discussion—as we have seen here.

    • c.ritter says:

      Riley –

      There’s a whole subset of the education field devoted to using games for teaching. You should take a look at James Paul Gee’s book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, which is all about the educational principles games already use to teach us. It’s a fascinating book and a great read.

  12. Caimen says:

    I find the topic of using video games as a teaching tool to be very interesting. Since so many people are ‘hands on’ learners video games could offer a fun method of teaching.
    I can vividly remember playing a Sesame Street game on the NES which very directly taught the player through three simple mode: Spelling (3-4 letter words), Math (addition and subtraction), and memorization. Thinking back, I am not sure why I enjoyed it very much because it didn’t do a very good job of ‘immersing’ me into the game, the style of teaching was very direct (basically, what is 2+2? good now move to the next problem).
    I think that modern video games could teach History effectively. Many first person shooters have had World War/Vietnam setting. Video games like Call of Duty have done this to some extent.
    My question is how can other areas of learning be taught through video games with out being too direct? If the player feels too detached from the game, then he or she may just feels like they are doing math problems on a xbox. Can a video game achieve cohesively have fun gameplay and still teach?

  13. Shawn says:

    Hmmm…

    I think there are a number of threads floating about that should be addressed. The first being questions of literature, the second being the value of Game Studies.

    Literature…the initial question coming out of the colloquium (iirc) was one on the subject of whether or not games could be read in the same manner as print culture is read. I think the discussion here as demonstrated that the answer is…depends on how you are reading it and to what end. That is to say that if one is reading a print text and a video game )as an interactive constellation of visual, text, and audio rhetorics) to disassemble socially constructed symbol systems then it is not only possible but the theory being used is derived from the same well (maybe even the same theorists).

    In my mind the more important question is, why the term literature is important. The term itself implies an import beyond the actual text. For a cultural artifact to be literature, is for it to be imbued with a cultural import beyond the actual wood pulp it is stained into. It is my opinion that the reason why there is a sort of skittishness to apply the term to Video Games is because VG’s are not viewed in the same sort of context.

    It comes back to (in my estimation) is a false dichotomy, high culture and pop culture. Literature is deemed high culture, and Video Games popular culture (and by implication of the modernist dichotomy low culture). Using Said’s notions of Othering it is now possible to use the concept of negative space to illuminate what high culture really is. High culture (of which literature is an ad hoc member) is very white, wealthy and primarily male.

    I will try to cover the second point later on today…

    ~S~

  14. Annie says:

    Congrats, Dr. Ritter!

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