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A Journey Through Digital Literature: Hidden Literature and Literary Criticism in Video Games

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Professor Shahram Sistani

English Literature Department

8 December 2012

A Journey through Digital Literature: Hidden Literature and Literary Criticism in Video Games


The modern era of literature has been born, so the definition of literature is no longer related to written works and books. It is about the art, beauty, and excellence in any piece of work like movies, performances, and especially video games. Admittedly, a video game is a new standard of literature in which all the parts of a literary work can be found and criticized. The influence of a video game upon its players is enormously vaster than a novel or narrative, consequently, the senses and impressions of a game are more observable and perceptible in comparison with a novel. Video games are the brand-new category of literature that can be criticized and scrutinized like novels and stories of literary works. Video games have an immense and varied content that should not be neglected, for instance, like a work of literature, there are numerous components and similarities in a video game as well, like themes, plots, characters, and point of views. The philosophy of storytelling is as aged as mankind itself. People have made extraordinary pace in storytelling. interactive storytelling is a form of digital setting in which users form or shape a dramatic storyline by their actions. This is considerably ranging from storytelling in literature. In literature, the author has all the control over the story, events, and the protagonist, while some games present a unique adventure of the user being in control of the story. Writers have to get the user feel for the character, they have to feel compassion for him or her. In literature, the protagonist is introduced to the reader (its audience), while in gaming the protagonist is experienced by the players. The remaining fact that, in a game, a story can be developed just by making different options, but interactive storytelling presents something possibly even vaster. It generates a sense of presence, the sense of being inside a made-up environment. the player persona is a character in a role-playing game, whose actions are commanded by the user, indicating that the user doesn’t just perceive the story, but can also engage in it. Supporting characters in literature equal NPC (non-player characters) in video games. The non-player characters are not controlled by the user, but instead by an artificial intelligence.

One of the first things that has to be picked while writing a piece of literature is the point of view into which the character is going to be presented. There are three different points of views in literature, and also in games though, in both, frequently being used two, the first-person or the third-person view. In literature, the first person is applied when the story is told from the storyteller’s point of view, about what the protagonist is seeing or sensing from inside their mind. The third person is more common, and it is used when the writer wants to narrate a story from an outside viewpoint as if they were watching a movie. The writer may use the third person omniscient, where the reader can understand the thoughts of many characters, or third person limited, where some knowledge, like characters ideas, are covered. The first-person view in video games is a bit diverse from the one in literature. The user sees what the character sees, which can reach to a greater union between the two, consequently enhancing the experience. The only problem that the player may encounter, in some games, is never truly seeing what the player look like as a character; No Man’s Sky is a game where the player takes on the role of a space pioneer (first person view), investigating different planets, and not only do he never sees himself as a character, there is also almost no possibility of him running into another space explorer, because of the huge number of planets. In the third-person view, the player is looking at the hero, normally from behind-the-shoulder viewpoint. This view presents visual information about the main character that the first-person view does not, but it also creates the feeling of otherness which tells the player of the gap between him and the character. Some users or readers feel closer to the characters if they don’t distinguish much about their visual presentation because it gives them the choice to assume what they look like by themselves. Seldom the third-person view takes that away, and we are faced with the pre-selected image of the character, but in some games, you may create the appearance of the hero by yourself.


The player designs the look of the character during the game. This demonstrates how critical is the visual presentation of a character, notably if the user assisted to create it himself. It may be true that, in the first-person, the user feels as if he truly is the character, but in the third-person (especially if he helped to create the character) he feels as if he is sharing and co-creating the story and the character. A second-person view is infrequently used in games, as in literature. In a game, the player spends the whole time staring at the main character from the front. This view is used in some Japanese games, where the player can communicate and speak with the main character, normally a desired character from a manga or anime. Although the second person narrative is extraordinary in literature, it is considerably common in video games. Actually, almost every game narrative is told in the second person.

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A Journey Through Digital Literature: Hidden Literature and Literary Criticism in Video Games. (2018, December 04). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 21, 2022, from
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