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Playing the Poem

When one thinks of literature one rarely correlates it with games.  In the case of electronic literature however, many elements overlap.  One example of this is the piece of electronic literature Rice, which incorporates aspects of both games and literature.


Both electronic literature and games are based off of the same concept, entertainment.  Games are created and played to have fun and challenge yourself and others either physically, mentally, or both.  Electronic literature is a different type of entertainment.  It is a form of art, which can be used to teach a lesson, get a point across, or educate the reader.

The stark difference between the two is the fact that a game must be interactive and have a reason to play, or goal.  While some pieces of electronic literature include forms of interaction such as hyperlinks or textual input, there also exist others which are based off of flash or other video software and have no inputs.  Also, most pieces of electronic literature do not have a set reason to evaluate them or have a final point or meaning.

Rice is commonly considered to be a piece of electronic literature.  It is comprised of many pictures and different forms of poetry.  Once combined these different aspects of the piece take the form of a complex story and its use of hypertext and animations solidify it as a piece of electronic literature.

However, Rice can also be thought of as a game.  Rice begins with a screen full of pictures.  In order to reach our objective, of discovering the meaning of this piece, we must click through the different pictures.  These pictures act as hyperlinks and allow us to reach different sections of the game to better understand the pieces meaning.  Because it falls on the user to go through the piece to learn knowledge stored in the piece it can be considered a game.

Rice is not simply a piece of electronic literature.  It can also be construed as a game.  Many other pieces of electronic literature are similar to Rice, taking the form of multiple types of media, that of a game and literature.


  1. Katie Pisciotta

    I completely agree with you when you classified electronic literature and video games into the two categories art and entertainment. It was also very helpful that you defined exactly what art and entertainment were, so that your readers were not confused in what direction you were headed in with the terms. I agree with you when you made the point that video games are competitive and electronic literature is not, but I disagree with you when you say that since “Rice” is interactive it can be a video game. Many pieces of electronic literature that we looked at were interactive, so would you consider all of those pieces video games as well? I think the difference between video games and electronic literature should be to the degree to which they are interactive, instead of saying that since there is or is not interaction it either is a video game or a piece of electronic literature.

  2. Interesting analysis of electronic literature and games. Short, sweet, and to the point. Games are fun, and reading can be too, and I think you capture the essence of the perfect marriage of the two activities into one direct, quality analysis of Rice. I regret that this is your final post, as I have enjoyed reading and commenting on yours all year.

  3. Hey, great post. I really enjoyed reading it. I agree with the points you made. I agree electronic literature can very much be seen as games. You enlightened me to see how that is possible.

  4. You present very interesting ideas. I like the points you made comparing and contrasting electronic literature and video games; the two may be different, but they can share characteristics to form a program that holds true to both definitions. I’m curious to try “Rice” myself and see if I draw the same conclusions. Your title is easy to read and understand and your unique pictures made me stop and read the post. The post got right to the point and was easy to understand. Keep up the good work.

  5. I agree with your opinions and really like your neat and concise post. However, I am afraid that you failed to follow the right structure order, which requires us to explain what the piece looks like then tell the difference between video games and electronic literature. Nevertheless, your had clear claims and nice analysis. Good job.

  6. It is a good argument. Concise, but at the same time I think a little more depth in your reasoning would have made your blog post more effective. Nonetheless the title is great and topical as you represent the large gray area between games and electronic literature.

  7. While you didn’t exactly follow the structure of the prompt, I liked the content of your post. It was concise (maybe too much so) but I agreed with your analysis of the distinction between electronic literature and video games. I thought the positioning of your images could have been used more effectively. For example, your last two images are too close together and are positioned awkwardly. I would spread out the images a little more to fix this issue. Overall good job!