Reflections of Espen Aarseth’s "CyberText: Perspec…

Reflections of Espen Aarseth’s “CyberText: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature”

The book appears to bear two distinct sections, theory and practical. The writing style of each section differs to the point that it almost feels like two completely different articles within one book.

The first portion of the book is quite technical, outlining the history of various perspectives of literary theory. The second portion of the book discusses the reader [he opts for the ambiguous term ‘user’ to represent the interactive aspect of the reader in cybertexts] – author relationship in MUD’s and other online areas.

*unicursal and multicursal maze explaination in the beginning of the book is quite appropriate to the gameCODE logo discussion and their relevance to the structure of video games in general. Might be interesting for others to read.

*discussion towards the end of the book about the reader-author relationship and the blurring of the two with the use of online textual tools and cybertext [p. 173]. He discusses the fact that to be considered author in this context, one has to ‘…have configurative power over not merely content but but also over a work’s genre and form.’ [p. 164] This makes me question any perceived form of authorship in any commercial videogame which – no matter how the user navigates through the game-space, the boundaries of the narrative are pre-determined by the sheer fact that the game was created by the author and not the player per se. Following Aarseth’s arguement that it is possible for player [user] to take on the role of author, I am led to question the difference between a cybertext and a ‘choose your own adventure’ book? Although there are many optional paths the ‘user’ can follow, they are nevertheless predetermined by the structure of the text.

* He takes this one step further and discusses the concept of linking information from one page to another as a form of cybertextual authorship. [p. 172] But again, i question this in the sense that by simply providing a ‘library’ am i writting a story?