House of Leaves

I didn’t realize Aarseth had coined the term Ergodic Literature.
I have an interesting history with Ergodic literature. I like annotated bibliographies quite a bit. I like academic literature for whatever reason. I read through Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake in highschool. House of Leaves is one of my favorite books. Ergodic Literature has a game-like quality that I find extremely appealing. For my birthday this weekend I bought myself a veritable tome of annotated H.P. Lovecraft stories, rife with third-party illustrations, collections of weird history and biographies by fans, and historical documents by the author himself. The appeal of these is somewhat of a game itself, centered around puzzling through large amounts of unique information by utilizing as much of that information as possible.

Webcomics like Homestuck and books like House of Leaves have a unique Alternative Reality Game (ARGs) like quality to them, and I’m curious how Aarseth would take to classifying things likes ARGs in the greater context of interactive media. I participated in many ARGs while I was in highschool, and the kinds of notes you take and information you compile comes to itself resemble ergodic literature themselves. I believe their relationship is unique in this response, and really has flourished with things like the Internet and Games.

Aarseth’s comments on cybertext itself are also interesting to me, and call to mind “Creepypasta” and other interactive media created for the sake of entertainment. Things like Marble Hornets and Ted the Caver sit firmly between the lines of interactive fiction and academic explorations of literature.

Games are, in essence, the perfect form of Ergodic literature as they place significant stress on the locations and elements that comprise textual narrative. In videogames this results in stylization, voice, and personality on part of justified systems, whereas in board games this exhibits itself through elements like the writing on cards or the rulesets, and the aesthetic experience of playing the game.

It is unsurprising that gaming technology and culture have spread from previously-academic sources and past-times, as the two fields tend to cross over quite a bit. In the age of Narrative games it’s clear that games are crafted and written in a non-linear fashion. While the industry has struggled due to this, games are fundamentally cybertext and with exploration into the its forms and fundamentals, game writing will theoretically improve.

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