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Free Content Doing there vs. being there: performing presence in interactive fiction

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The ability of computers to produce presence the visceral feeling of actually being there is typically associated with the presentation of intensive graphical effects. But studies on presence indicate that what players are able to do in fact contributes more to their sense of presence than graphical realism. Keeping this in mind, I explore possibilities for performing presence in digital narratives, particularly through the non-graphical digital medium of interactive fiction. I draw from critical theorists (Barthes, Iser and especially Gumbrecht) as well as theorists of new media (Aarseth, Ryan, Montfort) to frame an investigation into two major aspects of presence production in interactive fiction, namely: 1) how interactive fiction generates presence through the exclusive use of verbal signifiers rather than graphical images, and 2) how it allows users to generate presence themselves through their own actions. I conclude by examining three works of interactive fiction: Adventure, All Roads and Luminous Horizon (Crowther and Woods 19756; Ingold 2006; O'Brian 2004).
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Keywords: digital narrative; hyperfiction; interactive fiction; presence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Utah (USA).

Publication date: May 1, 2009

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  • The Journal of Gaming and Virtual Worlds focuses on theoretical and applied, empirical, critical, rhetorical, creative, economic and professional approaches to the study of electronic games across platforms and genres as well as ludic and serious online environments.
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