Screen combines game play and VR technology to create an embodied, interactive, and playful textual experience. The text initially appears on the walls as if they were pages, but as the words start to peel off, the reader can interact with them and even hit them back onto the wall as if she were playing Pong, forming new semantic patterns in the process. With its unique presentation, mechanics, and media environment, Screen enacts what the authors call a "next-generation literary experience."


Author description: Screen is an alternative literary game created in the "Cave," a room-sized virtual reality display. It begins with reading and listening. Texts, presenting moments of memory as a virtual experience, appear on the Cave's walls, surrounding the reader. Then words begin to come loose. The reader finds she can knock them back with her hand, and the experience becomes a kind of play - as well-known game mechanics are given new form through bodily interaction with text. At the same time, the language of the text, together with the uncanny experience of touching words, creates an experience that does not settle easily into the usual ways of thinking about gameplay or VR. Words peel faster and faster; struck words don't always return to where they came from; and words with nowhere to go can break apart. Eventually, when too many are off the wall, the rest peel loose, swirl around the reader, and collapse. Playing "better" and faster keeps this at bay, but longer play sessions also work the memory text into greater disorder through misplacements and neologisms.

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Previous publication: 2003 (SGI Cave version), 2005 (Linux Cave version), 2007 (Linux single-screen version).

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.