#producing digital literature. Sideways

Other floating material from the internet

Let’s continue our ride through digital literature on the pipes to games, publishing, bots, conceptual literature and storytelling. I present to you some bits and pieces rushing among the highway, highlights from my research that aim to give an overview over the state-of-the-art and some projects that caught my attention. A kaleidoscope.


The queen of digital literature in games is definitely Mez Breeze, an Australian-born digital media artist whose corpus of work is so multifaceted that it is even too long to list here. When looking for digital literature there is no chance that you do not come across the miraculous hell of a chap whose artistic career reads as a history of digital literature itself (though her work is usually attributed to net.art).

Taking this into consideration, I will limit myself and tell you about one project of her I found most intriguing. She is part of a group called The Third Faction Collective which’s interventions into the online war game World of Warcraft (WoW) reflect on the political conditions of the game while providing alternative, more humanitarian models as the original outset of the game. That is also mirrored in their making the Human Rights to their manifesto. Examples for these missions include: By flooding the neutral Auction House with health items to resource-poor character, or providing cross-factional assistance to low level characters which resembles the structure and basic work ethos of NGOs. The Third Faction initiated besides that a movement called DPS (“Demand Player Sovereignity”) that encourages to pursue civil disobedience in WoW to achieve greater autonomy as a player. “Although originating in World of Warcraft, the mission of the collaborative uses many methodologies to critically examine hegemonic narratives and attitudes that generally pervade game environments“, it says on the website. Ok, maybe this is not literature (if at all more like role play) but civic engagement via digital means.

But games are still so very bound to Aristotelian storytelling and linear narratives that still up until now there are just a few venturing projects that follow the path that was once promised by the name „virtual reality“ into delinear and/or user-focused stories. That is to say, that they employ different techniques of storytelling playing with and redefining their very own medium. Of course there are big giants like Mass Effect or Skyrim. But I would like to turn to two smaller projects, The Stanley Parable and Gone Home.

The Stanley Parable is a story told from an ego-perspective where you basically sneak through an adventure by hints and combinations (adventure game). Crucial turns or situations are narrated by a off-tone voice. The salient point and what makes it so cool is that the protagonist (which is you) can actively work against the narrator by making „wrong“ choices or by following a path other from that one suggested by the narrator. On the whole there are 18 versions of the end.

The other game is Gone Home , a self-declared “Story Exploration Video Game” that is hard to categorize but still close to an adventure game. Kaitlin finds, when she comes back home after one year abroad, that everyone has gone missing. By hints, signs and investigational curiosity she (or you) re-unfolds what has happened during the summer to her sister Sam. The story is completely set in the ’90s with most accuracy to trends and environments of a young rebellious woman.


Hyperfiction is indeed dead. Though once website-based it has turned to more e-publishing and/or apps. Not to mention that hyperlinks have become overtly common.

Digital Publishing

There are some works that apply new means (mainly multi-media or trans-media storytelling) that mainly focus on kinetic and sounds elements as part of the story. Take for example We Are Angry, actually a web-based project very close to literary journalism that tells on the website: “This is a free to view digital short story – a piece of multimedia fiction including photos, videos, audio and artwork, but is also bolstered by real reports, statistics and editorials.” In 19 chapters an actual case of rape of a woman in India is retold. Though the story spins around the raped womand its multi-focused perspectives draw a wide and deep picture of the situation of women in India.


There is a competition for computer-generated novels called Nanogenmo (short for „National Novel Generator Month“) which takes place yearly. The rules are as following: You have to write a 50k-plus-word-novel. That’s all. If you get selected you have to reveal the code for the novel as well. Tackling appropriation of word material and data as mass information the stories from 2015 contest include funny things like Around the World in X Wikipedia Articles or a novel called The Cover of the Sun also Rises that reads like “Brass. Brass. Brass. Brass. Brass. Brass. Brass. Brass. Brass. Drab. Drab. University of California Gold. Brass. Brass. Dark tan. Dark tan. Dark tan. Brass. Raw umber. Raw umber. Coffee. Dark brown. Olive Drab #7. Seal brown. Olive Drab #7. Olive Drab #7. Bistre. Bistre. Café noir. Raw umber. University of California Gold. Brass. University of California Gold. University of California Gold. University of California Gold. Copper. University of California Gold. University of California Gold. Brass. Brass. University of California Gold.”

The author is dead anyway. For those of you who do not know that there are bots that make everyone a writer, at this website you’d be offered an idea for a novel. And even when you have no clue about how your character should look like, you can also get a character design there. If you have set up all these things you can start to write. Take a coffee and a pen, put both things away and have also your first line generated. „Man is an entire man only there where he plays”, not where he is the originator. That is a romantic myth.

This entry is by all means not accomplished. Please send your proposals or anything you want to add here.

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