Adventure Cow forums

Educational => Discussing Game Design => Topic started by: Villain Mastermind on July 03, 2013, 03:22:50 PM

Title: Educational Resources Exchange
Post by: Villain Mastermind on July 03, 2013, 03:22:50 PM
One of the things that intrigues and draws me to Interactive Fiction is the feeling that it is a natural possible evolution of Literature, whereas in a certain sense, modern "Video Games" are an evolution of other "art forms" (e.g. Film, Card games, board games, etc). Then again, pigeon-holing I-Fiction is the last thing I want to do, even in my theorizing.

That notwithstanding, I propose a clearing house for "Educational Resources" in recommended lectures, articles, and other such things to help us grow in our knowledge and abilities.

Let me start it off then with some YouTube videos...

Here is an introductory series of lectures from Yale on Literary Theory (

A lecture series on one of the greatest works of the Western Cannon, Don Quixote (

An excellent talk by John Cleese on Creativity (

One of my favorite websites ever, TV Tropes (
Title: Re: Educational Resources Exchange
Post by: Chris on July 11, 2013, 06:15:46 PM
Very cool. In a nutshell, what is literary theory and what does the lecture cover, for people visiting in the future?
Title: Re: Educational Resources Exchange
Post by: Villain Mastermind on August 01, 2013, 09:28:27 AM
It is very academic and a bit dry, so most people will likely find it a wee bit boring. The lectures contain a pretty comprehensive history of Literary Theory, which is surprisingly young.

Despite of how hard it is for the layman to digest, it is a great lecture series that may inspire some to approach their work in a more structured fashion and add greater depth to what they produce creatively. That being said, it is important to stress that "Interactive Fiction" is a great deal more flexible of a medium than traditional literature, so treating them as one in the same is limiting yourself for no good reason other than not understanding the medium you are working with.

As for what "Literary Theory" is in a nutshell... It can be officially defined as " the systematic study of the nature of literature and of the methods for analyzing literature" (Wikipedia), but it can more simply be defined as a collection of methodologies for understanding what is "Literature" and various methods of how to holistically analyze a work and/or break it down into into it's component parts for study and sometimes interpretation.

It is often confused for "Literary Criticism", but this is a mistake. Serious literary criticism may utilize literary theory, but theory itself is not concerned with the "Literary Merit" of the work in question, just analysis and interpretation. In other words, theory is understanding a work and criticism is using this understanding to measure the supposedly objective worth of a work. I could outline my thoughts on the validity of criticism, but that would be a short essay that would likely bore the pants off you all.
Title: Re: Educational Resources Exchange
Post by: Chris on August 06, 2013, 02:52:50 AM
That's tough to wrap my head around - can you think of any quick examples of applications of literary theory, or observations that are made in the field of literary theory?
Title: Re: Educational Resources Exchange
Post by: Villain Mastermind on August 07, 2013, 12:32:21 PM
I suppose the best way to explain the relevance is to give a quick example of how I applied one of the things I learned in a unique way to one of my works that wouldn't work in a more linear medium like traditional literature.

Originally, "Thank you for your cooperation" was going to be the creative equivalent of "Brain Vomit". Pure randomness that entertained by its absurdity and off-the-wall situations. No real plan, no real structure, no real point... I burnt out pretty quickly following this path. Seeing no purpose in what I was doing, I abandoned it for several months and went back to my fruitless search for another corporate master to whore myself out to for a few shekels.

Feeling utterly defeated, I started doing research in my downtime, a long-held habit performed whenever I hit a wall of some sort. Stumbling across the aforementioned series of lectures, I would listen to them absentmindedly while doing some other task and let the words sink into my subconscious. As it usually does, this plan eventually bore fruit and inspiration struck.

Structure and form... A circle at first, then a series of circles fanned out around a single point, then a single point with an arc erupting from it that bifurcate into other arcs that bifurcate into other arcs with each eventually arcing back to the origin after an interval. The chain-reaction of inspiration continued and the wall melted away, leaving the way clear to carry on. With a game-plan (pardon the pun) in mind, work resumed and the fun began.

Since IF is different in nature from traditional literature, a straight application of Structuralist and/or Formalist thought would have been difficult, restrictive, or even just plain impossible. So my subconscious mostly just took the "spirit" of the idea and reinterpreted it in the context of the medium to provide me with some much needed direction. Trying to directly apply the theory of one medium to another (even if they are tangentially related) would be foolish, probably leading to pointless dogmatism and imposition of the limitations of that medium onto the medium you are working with.

I hope I'm not being too vague or even painfully obtuse. If so, I apologize... Work leaves me rather drained both physically and mentally, so clearly expressing a thought is far more difficult than usual.