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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

Ulysses as a Role Playing Game

Monday, October 01, 2012

My short article on "Ulysses as an RPG" has just been published in the Alluvium journal. This article is a somewhat speculative effort to draw some connections between games and literature at a phenomenological level, in this case pitching Joyce's innovative text up against our most recent model of narrative. 

In terms of the ways in which they create narrative it is becoming increasingly clear that games and literary texts are very different. Game theory has just about escaped from the legacy of its early theorists who looked at primitive text-based games and assumed that because they used writing, they could be analysed as discourse. This position is increasingly untenable as games posit multimedia worlds and multiply-branching plots. Nevertheless, I do think that in terms of the ways in which readers respond to texts, and gamers respond to games, the two disciplines can still learn from each other.

Whilst I am sure that many ludological game theorists would throw their hands up at the analogy I make in the article between Joyce's exploratory novel and the character-development operations of a role playing game, I am starting to think about the two media more impressionistically, in terms of how they make us feel. This Alluvium article is an early foray in relation to my developing book project along these lines, on Reading Games: Computer Games and the Limits of Literature.

My thanks go to editors Caroline Edwards and Martin Eve for letting me use Alluvium, which is dedicated to "twenty-first century" approaches, to advance what is at this stage something of a speculative concept. On which note, do please leave comments on the article, as this sort of blog-based peer-review will be invaluable in helping me to refine my ideas.

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Posted by Alistair at 6:21 pm


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