First off, yowzers! That was a lot of reading! I trucked through it all, but, man was that tedious!
So, this time, instead of addressing each reading individually, I’m going to try something new — today, I’ll be talking about my reflections upon completion of the readings more so than my direct responses to the texts themselves. Cool? Cool. Okay, let’s go.
First off, I’d like to reference my last blog post. In it, I mentioned my hypotheses on the misunderstanding of hypertexts and my personal reasoning behind their fringe popularity. Long story short, I figured hypertexts’ lack of popularity was primarily do to resistance to change and the dauntingly massive amount of potential that leave many writers wondering, “But how do I use this right?” A lot like Google Wave, right?
Well, seeing as the texts we read almost seemed to directly re-affirm this, I was a little saddened by how utterly befuddled I felt with Afternoon. I was hoping that upon experiencing a hypertext, I’d have a sudden understanding of the medium and be able to speak of my love of this innovative and unconventional idea — and yet…
I can’t really say I liked Afternoon. Not to say I disliked it, I was just so confused and lost that I can’t really say I enjoyed it. Perhaps this was the intention of Afternoon? Perhaps I’m getting my old-school, conservative literary ideas of beginning-and-end muddled in with my experience of a profoundly different thing? I really don’t know. I don’t doubt that I couldn’t enjoy Afternoon if I played around with it long enough, but at the same time, I don’t know if I want to. Maybe it’s just the dated interface, but I feel very little motivation to get really involved in Afternoon.
So, as you can see, I felt a little underwhelmed. We had all this discussion about Afternoon, and I read a bunch about it, and when I finally played with it, it honestly felt a little anti-climactic. I felt gypped, and yet, it got me thinking…
This idea of hyperfiction — I know I’ve experienced elsewhere and in a less outdated and confusing fashion…
That’s when it hit me! Visual novels (link redirects to a Wikipedia article about what a “visual novel” constitutes for those that aren’t familiar with the term)! I haven’t played that many of them, but I had some experience playing one released a few years ago titled Animamundi, and while I do notice that there are some significant differences between the Afternoon of the late 80s/early 90s and the visual novels of today (i.e. images, minigames, voice acting, etc.), the sentiment still appear to be there as far as I can tell.
Let me explain: both feature multiple paths, user-based choices that determine the path of the storyline, the ability to “wander,” good/bad endings, and in the end, require an audience to both read and participate. They are both effectively interactive, I believe.
So does this mean perhaps visual novels represent a new era and a rebirth of the hypertext? Also, it raises the question of what defines “hypertext” and “game,” and whether they overlap within this realm? Are they really mutually exclusive? I personally think they have plenty of room to overlap. Whether they do or not, they are incredibly popular in japan and have a growing fanbase here in America and elsewhere. Despite popular belief, not every visual novel is explicit/pornographic, though admittedly many are.
Discuss, and, oh! Here’s some examples of visual novel gameplay. These are from Animamundi, the one I mentioned playing as a high schooler:
Some visual novels even feature internal clocks that correspond with what goes on in the game/story. Here is an example from Kanon, which is an incredibly popular visual novel that spawned an anime in Japan: