As we’ve seen so far, electronic literature can do a lot with texts, using interactive elements like hyperlinks to set it apart from the more passive experience we’re used to when engaging with them. My addition to the blog this week, however, has taken this a bit further than a lot of works we’ve looked at. Stir Fry Texts, by Jim Andrews, is a unique experience, allowing one to sculpt their experience of the work while still looking at one coherent piece of work, rather than exploring a map.
Stir Fry Texts has different sections, with each one allowing you to change the language as you read. This is accomplished by taking your cursor and scrolling over the words, which causes them to nervously twitch and rearrange themselves. This mostly happens with phrases in the text, but in certain sections you can do this until entire sentences are completely different. Stir Fry is impressive not just because of its interactivity, but because the participation leads to a changing text while still ending up with something that comes from one theme or idea as the author. The story is still one that can be interpreted subjectively, as those who read can alter the words as much or as little as they like, but because it has a discernible root in the ideas of the author, it’s a much less arbitrary interpretation one might get from more open-ended works like Zork or other text games.
Speaking of interpretation, playing this game feels just like writing something from scratch. The anxious shifting of the words in front of you seem to perfectly reflect the always uncertain echos from your mind’s voice as you write something, editing your work internally as you go (full disclosure, it’s happening to me right now!). It’s an excellent look at the creating mind, and how if, given enough time and nitpicking, any story can change drastically from the way it started.
The only issue with Stir Fry is that sometimes, like the screenshot at the beginning of this entry, you may end up with nonsense. This can usually be solved by persisting in you scrolling until the text reads better, but not always. This is an excellent example of how electronic literature can balance interactivity with interesting storytelling.
Check it out here: http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/andrews__stir_fry_texts/index.html