“Playing” a book or “reading” a game?
A recent NY Times article examines the blurring of literature and videogames by looking at efforts made by book publishers to promote their books with corresponding videogames. One such example, the popular series The Software, includes a videogame companion that forces players to read the corresponding books in order to find clues necessary to progress in the game. While some may criticize videogames as a shallow medium relative to literature, others suggest that videogames may actually help develop a new type of “digital literacy” necessary for a digital age. Proponents of this perspective suggest that given recent technological innovations, videogames today can offer players rich experiences that promote creativity and critical thinking. While some may find this reliance on games by literary publishers as troubling, certain social scientists may view this as simply another illustration of the intertextual nature of the contemporary world. Influenced by semioticians such as Roland Barthes, many contemporary cultural sociologists work to identify the web of meanings that connect separate texts together. In fact, they argue that it is only through deferring to other texts that meaning can be produced. Perhaps this notion of “intertextuality” may prove highly useful for those interested in studying the narratives of these new book-game hybrids.