Stories Abound

In my mind, books and movies were for storytelling.  Video games were for playing, and the internet was for wasting time and doing research.  So when I set out looking for some form of electronic literature to blog about, I had doubts that I would find anything interesting enough to write about.  I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I found 10:01 by Lance Olsen and Tim Guthrie.

The work is set in a movie theater and has available the thoughts of several different moviegoers in the ten seconds before the move begins.  You click on the back of each person’s head, and their story appears in a small text box at the side of the screen.  The stories that I read were so fascinating that I let an hour pass before I took my eyes off the screen.  But even an hour later, I was only halfway through the characters in the theater.  I did not read all of them, but the ones I did read were more intricate and interesting than many of the book or movie characters I’ve come across.  There was an intertwining aspect of a possible bomb threat that kept me wondering if the characters that mentioned it were hallucinating or actually seeing this explosion.

Electronic literature, or what I have seen of it so far in Colossal Cave Adventure, Galatea, and 10:01, has proven to be better at storytelling than any book or movie I have come across.  Not only does it present the tale itself via text, animation, sound, or more often a combination of the three, but it also has more ability to absorb its readers and make them care about what’s happening on the screen in front of them because of that combination.  Books can absorb you, yes, but there is only your own mental image to provide you a painting of what you’re reading.  Movies offer the visual aspect, but we are so passive in watching them that it often takes an honestly good story to fully absorb us.  Electronic literature provides the tales of epic novels, the visuals of fantastic movies, and the interactive element to reel us in.  Video games, text adventures, even simple ‘click and read’ works like 10:01 or poetry offer much more depth in the telling of a story.

I was wrong.  Video games, the internet – all electronic literature, really, is for storytelling.

10:01 link here or if that doesn’t work you can find it through the Electronic Literature Volume 1 link

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