Espen J. Aarseth wrote that the screen would change the way we read and how narratives themselves are written. His book Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997) discussed the new forms of media that were appearing at the time (text based games, Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), and adventure games) and believed that they would lead to a new form of narrative in which the reader was in as much control, possibly more, as the writer. He compared cybertext to being lost in a world and finding actual hidden passages and secret rooms as opposed to the metaphorical ones a person could say they found in a book. However, the world did not change to suit his vision. Books still continued to be published and people continued to write linear narratives. Even the examples he cited began to shift back to the linear structure, MUDs in particular began to constantly become a story being told around the player with the only control being your actions would eventually move the plot forward. There is a resurgence of this type of story telling with games like Fallout 3 and Skyrim which are completely open to the player, there is even a new MMO (multi-man online game) that is going to allow that player community to shape their world and all the content will be player driven. However, the idea now seems so foreign that many are applauding FireFall for this unorthodox approach and hoping, as Aarseth must have, that this may have a profound impact on the medium. The point is that they did not take off as Aarseth envisioned they would; whether they do in the future is anyone’s guess but I do not see it completely replacing the narrative structure any time soon.

The fact that the Kindle and iPad allow for users to recreate the feel of turning a page even though they are obviously just holding a tablet does not seem like a step back to me. On the contrary, it seems like the logical step forward. The Kindle, and at least the eReader part of the iPad, are not meant to be new forms of narrative; rather they are meant to be a new way to access the same things we have always been reading. Laptops gave people access to the internet from almost everywhere, however, they were (and still are) slightly bulky and you can’t just pull one out and use it comfortably; it still requires some setup, usually a table or at least a chair. The iPad however is small enough to be used everywhere without having to sit down or find a table. Thanks to that, people found that they could access all portions of the internet and all their files without having to carry cumbersome things, and if they didn’t want to carry around things that may be necessary, ie. their laptops, why would they want to carry around a multitude of books to read when they might have some free time. Apple, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble realized this and each created a device to condense their books into a light weight object that people would not mind carrying. The Kindle, Nook, and iPad eReader are not technologies designed to help ease people into accepting some new breakthrough in the story telling method; they are simply newer devices to distribute the same material we love, ie. books to Kindle as records to CD Players and then iPods.

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