Avatars of Story
This work traces the transformation of storytelling in the digital age. Since its inception, narratology has developed primarily as an investigation of literary narrative fiction. In "Avatars of Story", Marie-Laure Ryan moves beyond literary works to examine electronic narrative forms. By grappling with semiotic media other than language and technology other than print, she reveals how digital media convey meaning and create stories. Ryan begins by considering texts such as a 1989 Cubs - Giants baseball broadcast, the reality television show "Survivor", and the film "The Truman Show". She then expands her investigation into new media: computer games such as EverQuest and Super Mario Bros., software-driven hypertext fiction such as the GPS-based 314 North 118 West, and Facade, a multimedia, AI-supported project in interactive drama. In doing so, Ryan distinguishes a spectrum of narrative modes, such as utilitarian, illustrative, indeterminate, and metaphorical. Ultimately, Ryan stresses the difficulty of reconciling narrativity with interactivity and anticipates the time when media will provide new ways to experience stories or even permanently alter what is recognized as story.