Posted by: Janine | August 23, 2009


…their art springs from frustration.

Jeremy Douglass

University of California, Santa Barbara

Title: Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media
My dissertation surveyed text-based narrative games called interactive fiction (IF), 1975-2005. I developed two methods for their interpretation — “implied code,” or the interactor’s mental model of an interactive work; and “frustration aesthetics”, or how constraints shape interactive experiences.



  1. When I was in undergrad, I wrote a long paper on Steve Meretzky and the influence of A Mind Forever Voyaging on narrative in videogames; your dissertation sounds absolutely fascinating.

    • Great Kyle — Meretzky’s AMFV is a classic.

      Thanks also for your interest — the dissertation is freely downloadable online if you want to check it out:

      • Noting the stylistic incorporation of the IF interface into the beginning of your dissertation, I thought you might appreciate how I began my Meretzky paper:

        You are sitting at a desk. In front of you is a freshly printed stack of papers.

        You have:
        an iBook
        a red pen

        >examine stack
        (first picking it up)
        There are twenty sheets of printer paper covered in double-spaced text and fixed together by means of a staple in the upper left-hand corner. It looks like a term paper of some sort.

        >open pen

        >use pen on term paper
        Hadn’t you better read it first?

        >read paper
        [page ends]

        [page begins]
        The Man who Wrote Electric
        Kyle Cassidy FRT – a term paper
        Copyright © May 6, 2005, by Kyle Cassidy, undergrad.
        Release 1 / Serial number 69105 /
        Microsoft Word ’03 (11.5604.5606)

  2. Thanks, I certainly will.

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