Jeremy Douglass’ Dissertation

on interactive fiction is now available. Jeremy was kind enough to let me read a draft a few weeks ago, and I found it quite enlightening. The introductory chapters, where he re-evaluates the timeline of IF and discusses the role of academic criticism in studying new media, I found pretty convincing.

More challenging is his argument that the term “player character” should be abolished entirely, on the grounds that it conflates several different kinds of relationship that the player can have with the characters in the game, and that using the terminology makes it unnecessarily hard for us to distinguish those different functions. I’m not sure whether this will change anyone’s long-held habits, but the argument is intriguing and worth a read.

Finally, Douglass offers several extended readings of specific works of IF, and especially a very long analysis of Andrew Pontious’ Rematch. This is great stuff, and I haven’t seen much IF criticism like it.

The book is not a small one and will take some time to go through, but it’s worth the attention. If at some point I come up for air from other tasks, I may address the substance of it at more length here — we’ll see.

In the mean time, congratulations to him for finishing, and thanks for making it available for everyone to read!

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