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From First Person to Second Person

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Correspondence:
Marc Ruppel
Department of Textual and Department of Textual and Digital Studies, University of Maryland,
Digital Studies, 2107
Susquehanna Hall,
USA
University of Maryland,
College Park, MD 20742,

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USA.
E-mail: mruppel@umd.edu
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First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, procedural, interactive, and simulative qualities of
and Game. Pat Harrigan and Noah Wardrip-Fruins new media, and the related production and
(eds). Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press, 2004. incorporation of narrative content within these
331 pp. ISBN: 0-262-23232-4. 25.95 (hardback). objects. Obviously, since not all digital and electro-
Second Person: Role-playing and Story in Games nic media research centers around story, First Person
and Playable Media. Pat Harrigan and Noah and Second Person are clearly targeted towards those
Wardrip-Fruins (eds). Cambridge, MA/London: working in the humanities, particularly the fields of
The MIT Press, 2007. 408 pp. ISBN: 978-0-262- narratology, textual studies, and digital studies. The
08356-0. 29.95 (hardback). title First Person is, in many ways, positioned as an
First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, indicator of the content withini.e. first person
and Game (2004) and Second Person: Role-playing video games, first person narration, first person
and Story in Games and Playable Media (2007) are interaction, just as Second Person claims that it is all
two compelling collections of essays that seek to about the YOU of these objects. Neither really get
examine the enormous impact that electronic, close to examining either first or second person
digital, and, more broadly, interactive technologies perspectives, though, and these titles act as nothing
and practices have had on the production of literary more than placeholders for the content within. First
knowledge and narrative. Each collection manages Person and Second Person, however, are uniquely
in its own way to provide a snapshot or, perhaps related in that they are each meant to be read with
more fittingly, a screengrab of the state of the Electronic Book Reviews companion website
contemporary media studies and, consequently, where readers can find longer, more thoughtful
each possesses distinct albeit often implicit biases responses to the pieces in this collection. In short,
towards the means through which we begin to reviewing both First Person and Second Personthe
situate the proliferation of new media. Having the printed booksis to exclude the wide-range of
chance to review these texts together provides an valuable and ongoing discourse that accompanies
opportunity to address what might be a more these texts online, and omit any discussion of a
gripping angle of examination than a simple survey model for future academic publishing that is truly
of contentthe possibility that the movement from multimedia in design. My review, however, will
First Person to Second Person represents a funda- unfortunately do exactly this, as there is too little
mental shift in our understanding of new media space with which to discuss the more nuanced
and new media, story, and play, and our methods arguments put forth online.
for studying these fields. In more ways than one, First Person exists as a
Although there are some obvious and important relic of sorts of the early years of new media studies.
differences between these two collections, one of the Even from an organizational and material stand-
more pronounced similarities is an overarching point, we can see the remnants of prior concerns.
concern about the relationship between the Unlike Second Person, each essay in First Person

Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2008. The Author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on 231
behalf of ALLC and ACH. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oxfordjournals.org
doi:10.1093/llc/fqn006 Advance Access Published on 26 March 2008
M. Ruppel

is coupled with responses from other commenta- and a Story introduces the concept of personal
tors, not unlike a Weblog allows for now. In any agency as a notion through which video games
given chapter, then, there might be two or even depend and he argues that any visual narrative form,
three competing opinions clamoring for ones especially games, needs a refinement of the spaces in
attention, with comments ranging from perceptive which agency is located. Michael Mateas A
to obstinate. Still, this attempt at remediation is Preliminary Poetics for Interactive Drama and
commendable (if intrusive), but in another sense, it Games, meanwhile, echoes Perlins concerns, and
hints at a more pronounced problem with the discusses the means through which narrative

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content of the book, namely the fact that there is a becomes the constraints through which agency
real tension between the immense scope of the texts (formulated here as a balance between formal and
proposed subject and the methodologies through material constraints) functions and prospers.
which these subjects is studied. Although new Cyberdrama as it is defined here, then, seems to
media studies as they existed in 2004 and exist now espouse a dialectic of enactment, one that positions
are undeniably hermeneutical in nature, too often the user/players actions as well as their experience
these hermeneutics are incomplete, providing only of agency both within and outside of the game space
an abstracted philosophical approach with little by as one of the most important elements when
way of the nuts and bolts of the objects themselves, discussing electronic gaming. Here, it seems, the
the operating systems, hardware, software, and, in authors would argue that without this understand-
some cases, paper that allows these media to ing, we are discussing systems of play, of simulation,
function. As such, First Person is undeniably fixed with no human element whatsoever.
in the wholly theoretical gray area that existed (and And in some sense, that is exactly what we find in
still exists) between the study of digital/electronic the next section, Ludology, where the shift in focus
objects, their contested ability to produce, induce, moves from agency to the structures in games that
and/or reduce story and, more generally speaking, control and dictate it. As one of the more pro-
literary meaning. Of course, speaking about the text nounced points of contest within new media over
some 4 years removed does make this claim a bit less the past few years, the ludological debate addresses
forceful, but nonetheless, the essays in First Person the efficacy of studying games as narrative objects,
represent (or re-present) many of the concerns that with proponents of ludology advocating instead that
the field continues to grapple with. And in it is the formal properties of video games (i.e. their
significant ways, this is the both the texts biggest procedurality, rules, objectives, etc.) rather than the
strength and weakness. story components (i.e. characters, plot, conflict)
Although the subtitle of First Person purports the that should dominate ones focus. Markku
examination of new media as story, performance Eskelinen, one of the earliest supporters of this
and game, the sheer scope of the First Persons eight approach, makes the claim in his essay Towards
sectionsCyberdrama, Ludology, Critical Simula- Computer Game Studies that a story, a backstory
tions, Game Theories, Hypertexts, and Interactives, or a plot is not enough (p. 37) to qualify a game as
The Pixel/The Line, Beyond Chat, and New Read- a narrative, as games often lack the narrative
ingssuggests a much wider focus. Suitably begin- situation of having both a narrator and a narratee.
ning with Janet Murrays From Game-Story to Furthering this thought, Espen Aarseth addresses
Cyberdrama, which outlines a case for why the what he calls the pervading narrativism of game
digital medium is well-suited to gaming activities, studies, and attributes the difficulties to studying
First Persons initial concerns are overwhelmingly games to questions pertaining to genre of the
tailored toward exploring the dynamics of new hermeneutical paradigms of study (i.e. textual,
media game-story relationships, as well as the role of narratological, and semiotic) and of an electronic
the player in relation to the development of story in games demands for a simulational hermeneutic that
electronic environments. Echoing Murray, Ken addresses the unique representational properties of
Perlins Can There Be a Form Between a Game digital and electronic media. In both cases, a

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resistance against what Aarseth calls the theoretical essay Game Design as Narrative Architecture,
colonialism (p. 54) of the academys entrenched which deftly negotiates the divide between ludology
positionsnarrative and visual studiesis pro- and narratology, presenting a very persuasive case
moted, while a push towards establishing game that it is space that is tantamount in games not
studies as a wholly new field of study, where the only simply for simulation purposes but also
study of the formal properties of electronic games for narrative potential. From an organizational
seem not only desirable but also necessary. standpoint, it makes no sense to include this piece
Fittingly, the next section, Critical Simulation, here, as its power is somewhat muted by its dist-

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makes the move towards an incorporation of both ance from Aarseth and Eskelinens essays. Similarly,
the human and computational elements in a Jesper Juuls Introduction to Game Time is a
discussion of socially situated gaming, and in highly ludological piece that centers on the
doing so ratifies the editors implicit agreement differentiation of time-states in games (Juul even
with both Aarseth and Eskelinen. Calling video runs a blog called The Ludologist). Though it does
games simulations, though, is not without con- not offer an insight into its own question of what
sequence. Simon Pennys essay Representation, makes a game interesting, it is clear that Juuls
Enaction, and the Ethics of Simulation, for concerns are somewhat in-line with earlier sections
example, argues that interactive entertainments, of the text, just as Celia Pierces Towards a Game
as he calls them, carry the same pedagogical power Theory of Game positions her arguments ludolog-
as training simulators such as those in use by the ically but without explicit mention to the field. Eric
military through their insistent implication of the Zimmermans Narrative, Interactivity, Play and
body and its reflexes in the course of gameplay. Games, meanwhile, hits the reset button quite
Although Pennys argument relies too heavily on literally and jettisons everything that was built
the commentary of a retired Lieutenant-Colonel towards at this point, preferring to focus instead
who used to work in the desensitization of soldiers, on the ways in which stories can be brought about
the essay does point towards an interesting blind- in order to frame game experiences. Along with
spot in contemporary game studiesthat of the Jenkins essay, Zimmermans piece offers a lucid
physical ramifications of investing oneself in a alternative to the strictly ludological perspectives
simulation, and the philosophical consequences found to this point, even if it feels almost like a
when divesting other means of research in favor of footnote following the heavy emphasis on ludology
a simulational approach. These consequences that came before it.
extend outside of the body, and are reflected As we transition to Hypertexts and Interactives,
through subsequent essays dealing with the crea- it becomes apparent that while the first half of the
tion of video games that reflect and tackle social, collection was at least partially unified under the
political, and cultural ills (Frasca) as well as the guise of game studies, the second half is instead a
potential for research into schizophrenia occurring much less coherent survey with no discernable build
through the study of AI techniques (Sengers). in argument. Here, we find essays ranging from
Game Theories, marks the first of several puz- renowned hypertext theorist and producer Mark
zling divisions in First Person. Although the essays Bernsteins collaboration with Diane Greco about
present here are for the most part solid, the the creation of alternative hypertextual systems to a
designation of Game Theories as a separate section later essay by J. Yellowlees Douglas and Andrew
is at first a confusing one, a gesture that posits all Hargadon discussing the merits of a schema-based
that occurred before should not be considered game approach to studying interactives, a term that
theory (it is). Although my position here might includes everything from Myst to Michael Joyces
seem a bit nit-picky, it is not so much when one seminal hypertext fiction Twelve Blue. Although
remembers that every collection of this sort is, of Harrigan and Wardrip-Fruin make the point that
course, an argument, where what is not said is often these essays and others in the section are united
as important as what is said. Take Henry Jenkins under the subject of authorial choice and reader

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M. Ruppel

comprehension, it is clear that this perspective textualities of the page cannot be used to describe
hinders the discussion of hypertext and interactives the new textualities of new media, provides several
as much as it directs it towards a common goal. extended theoretical musings on the topics ranging
That is, the proposed focus of this section is from a refutation of Kittlers position on our
theoretical, not material and, as a result, the editors relationship to text (i.e. letters/digits) in digital/
claim that hypertext perspectives lend themselves electronic environments (Cayley) to embodied
naturally to an examination of the reading experi- movements in electronic textual spaces
ence sits uneasily alongside the examples that are (Utterback) to the recombinant possibilities of

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chosen by each of the writers here. Stephanie interactive text in a virtual environment (Seaman).
Stricklands Moving Through Me as I Move, for At the risk of repeating myself, it is worth noting
example, discusses the nature of word/image rela- that while once again each of these essays are well-
tions, as acts as a survey of sorts of interactive crafted contributions to the field, one cannot help
poetics. It also, however, works toward expanding but feel that by this stage, something crucial is
the scope of what should be considered hypertext/ missing, and that the inordinate emphasis that the
interactive much in the same way that Bernstein and majority of these essays place on a theoretical
Greco preface their essay with a treatise on why approach is only distancing us further in some ways
many interactives should be considered hypertext, from the substrata and potentials of these new
and vise-versa. The problem here is not in their media artifacts.
agreement, as both make useful cases for the objects This feeling is somewhat vindicated by the
of their studies. Instead, I think that what we see welcome intrusion of Beyond Chat, which takes a
hereand what plagues much of this collectionis much more materially grounded approach to the
that in privileging the theoretical over the technical/ subject matterinterdisciplinary perspectives on
material, even with essays from the creators of such electronically enabled communication and conver-
objects, First Person opens itself up to a tangle of sation. Since so much of the first half of First Person
mixed messages about what new media objects is focused on the conditions under which story and
should be classified as. So while Bernstein and literary production is constrained and directed
Grecos appraisal of their Card Shark system as through new media, the content in this section is
hypertext makes sense, Douglas and Hargadons jarring in a way that the rest of the book is not.
equally well-reasoned examination of interaction in In Warren Sacks What Does a Large-Scale
new media objects positions hypertexts next to what Conversation Look Like?, we find not only the
we might more commonly call video games. theoretical dimensions of Sacks examination of
Perhaps the point here is to obfuscate easy Usenet groups, but also the practical and empirical
categorizations, forcing new media studies often issues he experienced in designing his Conversation
narrow view of hypertexts to undergo a reappraisal Map system, which aggregates and correlates con-
and in this regard, it works. The problem is that by versations taken from these spaces and makes mines
the end of the section, we are no closer to them for (dis)connections. Natalie Jeremijenkos
understanding what makes an object a hypertext If Things Can Talk, What Do They Say? If We
or interactive and another something else. Although Can Talk to Things, What Do We Say?, meanwhile,
focusing instead on the systems that create meaning points towards a direction that new media studies
(i.e. looking for commonalities in the software/code and this book seldom travel. In her essay,
that is created for these objects) could begin to Jeremijenko thoroughly outlines the numerous
rectify this problem, we find nothing of the sort in potentials for research in voice chips and speech
this text. recognition chips. Documenting the history of these
As a result, for much of the remainder of First technologies as well as the technical and sociological
Person, we are left struggling to find the books bases for their, Jeremijenkos piece brings a much-
identity and focus. The Pixel/The Line, introduced needed breath of fresh air to this collection. Rather
as an examination of the means through which old than concerning itself with voice recognition in, say,

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video games and or online fictions, Jeremijenko links, although each of these subjects are undeni-
instead chooses to take this discussion offline, so to ably epicenters within the fields growth. Rather, I
speak, away from the simulative and procedural feel that there is a very real possibility for growth
environments of the computer and into a territory within the field tied explicitly to the rapidly
too often neglected by new media studies. In doing changing relationships between old media and
so, she not only points toward what I believe is a new. This is not simply to say that remediation is
major blindspot in the field, but also in this text, becoming more rampant but, instead, that the
namely, its predominant focus on new media as links, networks, procedurality, and structures

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only existing inside the space of computer-driven provided by digital and electronic technologies
technologies. Just as Wardrip-Fruin and Harrigan are being interpreted through more traditional
lament that hypertext is often too narrowly con- media as new means of communicating informa-
ceived within the field, so too might we say that the tion. This is not just old media playing catch-up,
concept of new media (which, I might add, is never either. It is a redefinition on every level of the
truly defined in this collection) is also too narrowly dynamics of a medial ecology. In short, then, the
conceived in its formulations. Seldom do new shift from First Person to Second Person, a shift
media scholars look away from the flickering signi- from new media to playable media, represents the
fiers of their computer screens to focus instead on profound possibilities for a partial paradigm shift
other means of digital and electronic expression. within the field, and a much-needed one at that.
And while we may argue about whether some of Tied to the idea of a relational definition of new
these technologies should even be considered new media is the concept of play, of an openness of
media, it is undeniable that the field has already structure that contrasts somewhat to the formal
become over fixated on a small body of concerns. structures of games. Play in its most general sense
In short, First Person represents to me a reflection of is open-ended, and need not have a beginning or
a field still working with the definitions of its end. A child at play in a sandbox is not subject to
boundaries, searching for its shining examples, the same rules that she might be while playing a
muttering towards its vocabularies. game of hide-and-seek. Still, the sandbox is only
But whereas First Person feeds too often into the so big, and it contains only so much sand. Similarly,
narrow view of the field, Second Person corrects play within a medium can be equally as open-ended
this error by expanding its scope. Although the as sandbox play, however, like limited space of
focus of Second Person is purported to be Role- a sandbox, we cannot work outside of the mediums
Playing and Story in Games and Playable Media, it material boundaries, as much as we might try.
is clear quite early on that the category of playable Narrative, however, is infinite in its capacity for
media is really a way of moving past the space. Although a narrative functions much in the
limitations that the term new media brought to same way as a medium doesby providing
First Person. Indeed, although the objects discussed constraints and mechanisms through which infor-
in Second Person have roots that can be traced back mation can be filtered and disseminatedthe
centuries (i.e. cards, books, improvised perfor- worlds created through narrative are limited only
mance), in the context of more contemporary by ones imagination. And here is where we find
objects and practices they provide us with a one of the more interesting unspoken facets of
different means through which to view new Second Person: the possibility that when discussing
mediathat of the relational sense of the term, the dynamics of playable media, role-playing,
where old media artifacts come into contact with and story, we are really discussing the dynamics
new modes of praxis that are influenced by, but of world building. And even though not every
not necessarily materially bound to, digital and essay in Second Person inherently deals with this
electronic technologies. To reiterate, it helps to process, the majority do and, as a result, the book
remember that new media studies is not all about provides us with a far better understanding of
digital gaming, electronic literature, and hypertext the relationships between media, story, and

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M. Ruppel

our role as both creators and consumers of these process of creating a play space, can we begin to
objects. understand the means through which meaning is
Consequently, Second Person is less a theoretical produced within it. In this regard, Second Person
discourse on preexisting worlds (i.e. an interpretive gives us two access points to play: one based in
framework) as it is a collection of first person narratives of a play spaces construction, the other as
accounts from authors and designers about the participants within this space.
struggles, triumphs, and design decisions that went As much as my criticisms about First Person
into making a particular playable object (here we centered on its organization, it is important to note

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might say that Second Person is much more ground- from the outset that Second Person avoids these
ed in first-person perspective than First Person is). same problems by simply loosening the scope of
So why is it that a discussion of play can be so each section to a sufficient scale. Whereas the first
thoroughly satisfied by a discussion of production? four sections of First Person might have been
Because play is open-ended; it is a dynamic, mutable, combined into one coherent section called Game
and wholly subjective experience that can help to Theory, Second Person contains only three thematic
create the conditions with which role-playing and, divisions: Tabletop Systems, Computational
subsequently, narrative is generated. Any discussion Fictions, and Real Worlds. Within each of these
of the creation of a play space, then, is a discussion sections, we also find a much more varied set of
that helps us to understand the conditions through essaysforty-seven in total as compared with the
which play functions. What we get here, then, is a far twenty-five primary essays in First Person.
more intimate collection that shifts our focus from Paradoxically, this makes Second Person far more
distanced description and theorization of existing directed than First Person, even with the somewhat
spaces and the rules defining them to an examina- tenuous and subjective unifying element of playable
tion of the process involved in building these spaces. media as an organizing principle. The first section,
First Person struggles with the question of what a Tabletop Systems, focuses primarily on works
game is (at least in regards to mechanics and story) that are more typically called traditional paper-
while Second Person chooses instead to address based (in the form of books, cards, etc.) role playing
the question of how a game is, or came to be. The games (RPGs), although there are a variety of
question of How is it played? is perhaps more perspectives here on objects that might not be
fittingly repositioned for Second Person as How is considered role-playing at all. It is worth noting that
the world in which play happens built? First Persons concerns about the relationship
This is possibly best exemplified by the inclusion between games and stories are addressed here right
in Second Person of three full role-playing or from the outset in Greg Costikyans Games,
storytelling games in the appendices of the book Storytelling and Breaking the String, which attempts
itself. Rather than simply discuss play, Second Person to address the issue in the context of non-electronic
invites us instead to dive right in and engage in the spaces, such as in Dungeons & Dragons tabletop
objects of discussion. This is a small but crucial RPGs, Julio Cortazars Hopscotch (1966) and the
move here, one that takes us from passive readers of Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 1980s.
this collection to active players and creators of the Although these examples are a somewhat standard
objects of discussion. This type of intent does not means of interrogating the story/game divide,
allow for traditional new media hermeneutics such Costikyan, himself a noted RPG designer, draws
as those found in First Person. In its place, we find conclusions that are, for the most part, inapplicable
something much closer to what Lev Manovich to digital games. In this sense, Costikyans ideas
might call a theory of the present, where process provide a significant and necessary counterpoint to
and record is more important than theorization, the logic of First Person, where most essays made the
and the material object as-is is more important than case for something being new media, and very rarely
any projections we might make with regards to its the opposite. Immediately, after we move into a
future. Only through actively understanding the series of unusual and stimulating essays about the

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creation of particular RPG systems and narrative player-character in his own interactive fiction and
worlds. In George R.R. Martins On the Wild Cards Stuart Mouthrops playful description of the
Series, Martin details the fascinating process of motivation and creation of his Flash piece Pax,
building the universe of the Wild Cards book series as well as all the untidy issues of play and writing
in collaboration with several other authors, each related to creating literary meaning in an electronic
working separately within the constructs of a place. In some instances, such as in Michael Mateas
loosely established storyworld. Later, in My Life and Andrew Sterns Writing Facade, the process of
with Master: The Architecture of Protagonism, creating meaning within a simulated world becomes

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Paul Czege, designer of the well-regarded Baron one where story meaning spurs game design, and
Munchausen RPG, details the process through which not the opposite. In short, although on the surface
he feels story-making games function most success- these essays might seem somewhat disparate, the
fully: simplicity of design which, in turn, provides flattening of the organizing elementcomputa-
guidance and freedom with which to play within a tional fictionsas well as the predominantly
world. Breaking from RPGs, Eric Zimmermans creator-authored nature of these pieces provides a
Creating a Meaning-Machine: The Deck of Stories multiplicity of viewpoints that cohere on several
Called Life in the Garden describes the development important levels, the primary being that within the
of his interactive paper book, stressing that a well- space of the computer, one of the more difficult
established storyworld (in this case the Garden of aims of incorporating stories and games lies not in
Eden) is necessary in order for coherent play within the programming, but instead in the reconciliation
story situations to be evident. In each case men- of the boundaries of each particular world, be they
tioned here, and many others within the chapter, procedural or narrative.
there is a defined emphasis on the plurality of Real Worlds shifts this discussion into a pre-
meanings resulting from structures that rise organi- viously unchartered territory, away from our screens
cally from a world whose design is open-ended and, and desks and into the spaces that we normally
more importantly, not goal oriented in the way that consider unmediated. The essays here start some-
games are. what tethered to traditional media. John Tynes,
Computational Fictions, follows a similar pro- creator of the Puppetland RPG, writes in Prismatic
cess, with Harrigan and Wardrip-Fruin asking Play: Games as Windows on the Real World, that
What makes computer games different than other engagist media such as video games allow partici-
games?. Their answer, in part, is that computer pants to acquire and question knowledge of the
games take on the mechanics of game states world around them. Although Tynes case here is a
themselves; that is, the system of computer persuasive one, it is but one of many of the
gamesits rules, space and goalsfunction even definitions of real to be found here. Whereas
without a players complete understanding of them. reality for Tynes means anything outside of a
Yet even so, the majority of the essays in this section mediated world, for Ian Bogost and Gonzalo
have less to do with the theoretical ramifications of Frasca in Video Games Go to Washington: The
such a statement and more to do with the creation Story Behind The Howard Dean for Iowa Game it
of environments in which (game)play can happen. means a symbiosis between a computer mediation
Gameplay, after all, is simply play given formal goals of reality and our heightened access to worlds
and state-oriented structure. What follows in this outside of this mediation, namely the political
section are first person accounts of the creation of process. In these essays, and in several others on
such spaces, ranging from Jordan Mechners topics ranging from improvised theater (Uren) to
description of the hurdles encountered when World of Warcraft (Mortensen; Walker), we witness
acting as lead designer of Prince of Persia for the a shifting relationship to the real as well as the
Playstation 2, Lee Sheldons discussion of the forces that structure it. While Bogost and Frasca
process of adapting Agatha Christie as a PC game. detail how a game can restructure and impact an
Nick Montforts eloquent account of creating the election, Jill Walker argues in A Network of Quests

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M. Ruppel

in World of Warcraft that many games, particularly digital and electronic expression needs to first begin
massively multiplayer online role playing games with these sorts of accounts.
(MMORPGs) are already wholly structured worlds In the introduction to The Language of New
in themselves, with complicated choices present for Media, Lev Manovich (2001) laments the loss of
the structuring of this world. The bottom line here moments of explosive creation in new media, when
is that, again, play within mediated worlds is always a twenty-something programmer at Netscape took
a construction, an arrangement of elements that the chewing gum out of his mouth, sipped warm
allow for user agency both within and outside of the Coke out of a can . . . and, finally satisfied with its

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world of play itself. This is no more clear than in small file size, saved a short animation of stars
Jane McGonigals important work in alternate moving across the night sky. (p. 7). Although there
reality games (ARGs), recalled here in The Puppet are not any moments of this scale in Second Person
Master Problem: Design for Real-World, Mission- (at least that we know of yet), this general concern is
Based Gaming. In the course of her essay, reflected throughout the volume. We might even
McGonigal details the complex process of creating call it one component of the burgeoning swing
and enacting the alternate reality game I Love Bees, of textual/material studies that new media research
the lead-in component to the launch of Microsofts is currently undergoing. Recently, Matthew G.
Halo 2 for the Xbox video game system that had Kirschenbaum published Mechanisms: New Media
players scouring the Web, which acts as a hub of and the Forensic Imagination (2008), a book which
communication and narrative aggregation, for clues investigates and outlines an approach to the most
and GPS locations that would direct them to parks, basic matter of new media, from the magnetic
phone booths, and other areas where they would be media of hard drives to the formal materialities of
given small snippets of narrative information that, code. Similarly, Nick Montfort and Ian Bogosts
when assembled online in chat rooms and on (eds) series Platform Studies seeks to come to an
message boards, would form a coherent story. understanding of the unified role that hardware
Although we might now more casually call these and software design plays in creative output. At the
sorts of things viral marketing, their impact is macro end of the spectrum, Henry Jenkins
much more important than just a commercial Convergence Culture (2006) investigates new
endeavor. In some ways, what McGonigal and media production from the standpoint of the
others like her are doing is redefining the limits of corporations, individuals, and cultural forces
what literature and narrative can be through a responsible for transforming narrative and expres-
digital model of distribution. In previous models, sion. Regardless of the orientation, it is clear that the
narrative is some combination of a mediums fields continuing maturation is a result of a much
communicative capabilities and the imaginative less hermetically sealed approach to the potentially
boundaries introduced in the story itself. massive effects that both baseline materialities and
Now, however, with the advent of I Love Bees and cultural/economic orientations have on expressive
other such phenomena, we are no longer tied to technologies.
a single medium, even one as expressive as a In the end, it must be said that just as I have
computer, in order to make narrative meaning. We advocated for a more open discussion of production
must then consider the possibility of a truly practices, so too must we remember that the
multiply mediated storyworld, what I call a cross- majority of contemporary new and new media
sited narrative, where the words on a computer interaction is done without knowledge of such
screen comingle with the smell of freshly cut grass in things. And in this regard, both texts are essential to
the park these words direct us to. This is an the development of this rapidly growing field. In a
important step for the field of new media to take. similar sense, the ongoing discussions facilitated by
Narrative here becomes a unifying factor, not each texts corresponding websitesdiscussions
media, not the ones and zeroes of basic binary. that we, as readers, are encouraged to participate
Any future idealizations about the potential of inpoints towards what I think is the future of

238 Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 23, No. 2, 2008


From First Person to Second Person

academic publishing. Although the monograph is References


still a valuable commodity in academia, our discuss-
Manovich, L. (2001). The Language of New Media.
ions of a given topic need not end there. Indeed,
Cambridge, MA/London: The MIT Press.
they should proliferate, grow, and spread through
Kirschenbaum, M. G. (2008). Mechanisms. New Media
our networks, online and off, until they no longer
and the Forensic Imagination. Cambridge, MA/London:
resemble what they once were but instead have
The MIT Press.
adapted and become reflections of an ever-changing
Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence Culture: Where Old and
landscape of media, literature, and all those use
New Media Intersect. New York: NYU Press.

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them.

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