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Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace [Paperback]

Janet H. Murray
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 17 1998 0262631873 978-0262631877

Stories define how we think, play, and understand our lives. In this comprehensive and readable book -- already a classic statement of the aesthetics of digital media, acclaimed by practitioners and theorists alike -- Janet Murray shows how the computer is reshaping the stories we live by. Murray discusses the unique properties and pleasures of digital environments and connects them with the traditional satisfactions of narrative. She analyzes the dramatic satisfaction of participatory stories and considers what would be necessary to move interactive fiction from the formats of childish games and confusing labyrinths into a mature and compelling art form. Through a blend of imagination and techno-wizardry, Murray provides both readers and writers with a guide to the storytelling of the future.


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From Amazon

Technology changes storytelling--movies don't tell stories in the same manner as wandering bards. Janet H. Murray, director of the Laboratory for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is fascinated with the changes emerging technologies may bring. Interactive tales, more versatile structures, stories as games, and games as stories are among the topics she explores in her very personable and entertaining style. And what about fears that interactive escapism could be the coming addiction? She makes an unblinking examination of this question with insight into both the technological possibilities and the strengths of the human psyche. Strongly recommended for anyone who loves the art of storytelling in any medium. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

There's something a bit threatening and yet more than a little thrilling about the idea central to Murray's work: Can we already be at the cusp of a bona fide new medium of communication, one that will marry the power of the narrative with the vast capabilities of the computer? Murray, a longtime humanities computing guru at MIT, insists that we are, convincing us that the attraction of writers for cyperspace is as irresistible as it is persistent. Already, she argues, numerous novelists, playwrights and filmmakers are poised for the move toward multiform stories, digital formats, and, of course, increased interactivity. Murray's ruminations are dramatic, compelling, and almost as hypnotic as drama itself, be it real (and steeped in tradition) or virtually imagined. Heartily recommended for scholars and all fanatics of the brave new world.?Geoff Rotunno, "Tri-Mix" Magazine, Goleta, Cal.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars playing with Story in cyberspace Aug. 19 2001
Format:Paperback
janet murray's book is a seminal work for anyone interested in what story, entertainment is going to look like in cyberspace.
imagine if you were alive in 1889 when the movie camera and project were invented. it was not immediately obvious that this new invention would play any role in the world of story, entertainment. it wasn't until the teens of the 20th century that dw griffith developed a language of story on film... and not until the early 20's until the movie theatre with pop corn came upon the scene.
we are at a similar place with the new technologies of digitalness, cbyberspace, interactivity, etc.... as humans were with the movie technology over 100 years ago.
janet murray's book gives us the thinking of the best minds at the MIT Media lab as to what might be going on here.
a great book...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Take a spin into the midst of the future Feb. 4 2001
By Grady Harp TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Some may find this terse, warmly witty, and tidy treatise about "whither literature in the world of CyberSpace" as just too esoteric to read. Stop. This is not a book grieving over the lost art of words and writing that nurtures the lives of all readers. This wise book is a guide to the possibilites that elude pessimists wary of the ultimate effects of the computer on this century. Relax, discover the possibilites about which you've never dreamed, and let Murray tell you some stories in the mode of the future. For writers, for teachers....but also for the committed readers. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The history of the video game meets narratology Feb. 8 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm writing a dissertation on postmodern literature and thus had the pleasure of considering this book as research. The truth of the matter is, that in the dull, dry world of books on narrative theory, this one was FUN! This is exactly the point- video games and Star Trek have EVERYTHING to do with the way narrative works today, (which Murray compares with the way it worked in Shakespeare's time,) and will work once the average American can no longer remember a time when video games had no graphics.
It's fun AND it shows how things are changing and how quickly.
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Format:Hardcover
Great book that gives an thorough account of the structures that are given by the format of the digital media. You not only learn to analyse how digital storytelling works but also how it could and should migrate from the status quo to elevate itself onto the next literary level. To anybody who is interested in digital storytelling I recommend this book with all my heart.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb look at the structures of digital storytelling April 20 1999
By Amazon Kunde - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Great book that gives an thorough account of the structures that are given by the format of the digital media. You not only learn to analyse how digital storytelling works but also how it could and should migrate from the status quo to elevate itself onto the next literary level. To anybody who is interested in digital storytelling I recommend this book with all my heart.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history of the video game meets narratology Feb. 8 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm writing a dissertation on postmodern literature and thus had the pleasure of considering this book as research. The truth of the matter is, that in the dull, dry world of books on narrative theory, this one was FUN! This is exactly the point- video games and Star Trek have EVERYTHING to do with the way narrative works today, (which Murray compares with the way it worked in Shakespeare's time,) and will work once the average American can no longer remember a time when video games had no graphics.

It's fun AND it shows how things are changing and how quickly.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take a spin into the midst of the future Feb. 4 2001
By Grady Harp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Some may find this terse, warmly witty, and tidy treatise about "whither literature in the world of CyberSpace" as just too esoteric to read. Stop. This is not a book grieving over the lost art of words and writing that nurtures the lives of all readers. This wise book is a guide to the possibilites that elude pessimists wary of the ultimate effects of the computer on this century. Relax, discover the possibilites about which you've never dreamed, and let Murray tell you some stories in the mode of the future. For writers, for teachers....but also for the committed readers. Enjoy!
19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There's no future in Murray's dreaming... Feb. 13 2005
By skooly - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book came highly recommended to me. With all the hype surrounding its apparent genius I expected to be blown away. Sadly though, this book comes across as someone who has just played a video game for the first time (MYST) and decided that the kids might be on to something. Murray proclaims that one day in the distant future, they'll make a 'holodeck' and we'll finally have true immersion. In the mean time, we can gloss over all the interactive components that make such an experience compelling in the first place. The future of gaming/narratology/ludology whatever-you-want-to-call-it is already here. You don't need a "VR Suit" or some imaginary technology to have a truly immersive experience. Her woefully uninformed look at the games of her day are completely inexcusable:

"...interactors will be lured into worlds where they float, tumble, and arc through thrillingly coloured spaces, fly through imaginary clouds and swim lazily across welcoming mountain ponds. The nightmare landscape of the fighting maze, in which we feel imperiled may give way to enchanting worlds of increasingly refined visual dealight that are populated by evocative fairy-tale creatures."

At the time of this book's publishing (1997) games such as Jumping Flash, Mario 64, and Tomb Raider had already taken the world by storm. By reducing contemporary gaming to mindless, juvenile violence (while championing those themes in 'War & Peace', 'Hamlet' and 'Star Trek') Murray shows a complete lack of interest and imagination.

The heavy hand of narrative is not the only way to tell a story. We don't need a "cyberdramatist" the likes of a Dickens or a Shakespeare to show us the way. She could have explored the work of Miyamoto, Wright or Kojima and the stories that arise out those gaming experiences. Instead she focuses on the Miller Brothers because they offered up the most conventional form of storytelling. Eight years on, their impact is almost forgotten. Above all, people want to act - not in the theatrical sense, but in the name of imaginative 'play'. Maybe someday she'll prove us all wrong and the "Dr. Quinn Holodeck" will sweep us up in the rapturous joy of existing in a town populated by:

"...blacksmiths, barbers, general store owners, saloon keepers, scouts, and, of course, female doctors and who could be given their own homesteads or boardinghouse rooms in particular physical locations within the fictional world."

Sounds like fun.

Criticism aside, I did enjoy the chapter "Eliza's Daughters". Murray's look at procedural characters and believable agents proved informative and intriguing. If only the rest of the book were as objective and plausible then I might actually believe the hype surrounding, "Hamlet on the Holodeck".
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad. July 27 2013
By Arthur Wendorf - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A little too much focus on prediction for my taste. Nevertheless this book does a decent job of predicting how story-telling will evolve in the future.
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