Att läsa ett dataspel: Om digitaliserade rollspel som berättelser

Jonas Carlquist


Users and scholars have, over the last years, paid attention to computer games as an important type of interactive fiction. The games have obtained an ever increasing audience and must be seen as an important cultural phenomenon. In this article, I try to examine – in my role as a textual analyst – the narrative standing of one computer game genre: the role-playing-games. I try to describe the characteristics of this interactive fictional genre by a close analysis of three best-selling games – Fallout 2, Baldur’s Gate and Planescape Torment. With the help of different scholars, both from the field of computer games and from hypertextual theory, I try to establish my own method of textual analysis for this complex genre. In my analysis, I use, among others, Espen Aarseth’s typology of textual communication (1997:62ff.), Jesper Juul’s analysis of computer games as interactive fiction (1999), and Anna Gunder’s analysis of the narrative technique in Michael Joyce’s afternoon, a story (1999). I find, above all, three different parameters to be crucial for the digital role-playing-games in comparison to other narrative genres. These are the structure of the narrative (the games are, for example, multisequential), the narrator (the games include both a narrator and a character), and the time of the narrative (time is important for the interaction but not for the story in itself). One of my main results is that digital role-playing-games do function very well as narratives, but they cannot be compared to traditional literature. Yet, they do show some similarities with hypertexts and hyperworks. I find it very important that we get linguistic instruments for analysing this type of genre, because even if digital role-playing-games cannot be seen as good literature, they are enthralling and addictive narratives with a growing mass of "readers". I mean that this genre deserves to be analysed and discussed for its own sake. 

The article is published in two parts. 

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