For me, video games have always served the purpose of being able to delve into a new adventure. It provided a chance to escape the restrictions of reality and visit a new “realm”. From exploring Middle Earth in “Shadows of Mordor” to driving around the California-esque scenery of “Grand Theft Auto V”, games allow for one to enter a new experience every time they turn on their console/PC. Modern gaming owes it’s current development and popularity to the text-based “Script Adventures” (games where you typed in words order for action to to be taken, kind of like Dungeons and Dragons).
These hypertext based games helped serve as the precursors to today’s modern blockbusters. Looking at one in particular, “Dragon Age: Inquisition”, helps to better understand how gaming is the pinnacle to interactive electronic literature.
You open playing “Dragon Age: Inquisition” with your customized or default main character walking around (mostly bewildered) in a brown fog. Suspenseful music begins to play, while diagetic chirping noises can be heard. As you begin to climb an incline, the chirping is revealed to be menacing (personally, terrifying) spider-creatures. They begin to ascend as the music begins to pick up. The protagonist makes his way to a large glowing figure, who’s hand is outstretched towards you. As you reach your hand towards theirs, the screen quickly bursts white and you reappear in an area that appears to be in ruins.
Just from this opening cinematic, Dragon Age provides you with a film-like experience as you are lead into the equally engrossing narrative. From there, you meet a cast of characters. For example, Iron Bull who is a horned “Quanari” male warrior. His main characteristics are his finely shaped horns, witty banter, love for battle, and large size. Considered to be the most interesting companion in the game, he provides colorful commentary on battles, decisions, and the like. Then you have Cassandra, the female Orlesian “Seeker of the Chantry”. She is an honor-bound Templar, who has devoted herself to the Chantry of Fereldan (Dragon Age’s equivalent of the Catholic church). Cassandra is a pure, battle-hardened warrior who follows you into combat with unwavering loyalty. On a side note, as a romance interest she is innocent in the ways of love and a “true romantic” (poetry, flowers, etc.). These two companion characters help to enhance the gaming and literary experience the player makes his/her way through the journey of Dragon Age.
Another way that gaming (DA: Inquisition in particular) serve as fantastic sources of electronic literature is how the choices of the player are reflected in how the story progresses, how the world is affected and appears, and the experience differs for each player throughout their playthrough. Take for instance if you kill many bears or wolves within a specific area, due to those actions, those animals/creatures will become less likely to appear and a different species may or may not take its place. Also regarding choice, if a player decides they don’t want certain companions in their group, some have the option to be dismissed or “kicked out”. These small details may seem unimportant at first, but they have short/long-term consequences on possible quests, storylines, conversations, etc. in regards to the gameplay experience.
All in all, the point I’m trying to make here is that this medieval-fantasy game was both a treat to experience and a wonderful example of the innovations of electronic literature. It highlights how narrative combined with interaction and stunning visuals can provide anyone with a “journey to a new world” in a sense. They can be anyone or anything. You can model the character after you, what you want to be, or however you feel like having them look. Choice is the main theme here, and gaming provides a fantastic opportunity to maximize choice in regards to what you want out of a literary experience.