March 21: Hypertext and Hypermedia

To Do This Week


My Boyfriend Came Back from the War, by Olia Lialina (1996)
How to Rob a Bank, by Alan Bigelow (2016)
With Those We Love Alive, Porpentine (2014)

blog prompt:
Hypertext – hyperlinks connecting documents – opens up new ways to write, think and connect with others in networks.  Hypertext created the web, spawned new forms of art and ways of presenting knowledge. 

A digital story can be made of hyperlinks that follow a linear sequence, like pages of a book. But what about multilinear networks, random access and user interactivity – computer properties that break away from strictly linear sequencing?  Digital games certainly use narrative forms and there is a rich history of literary fiction that have game-like qualities. Can the computer do for storytelling what it has done for gaming? What kind of stories work best in digital form?

Explore the three works listed above. Write a blog post about how the works can be considered stories or not. Do any of the works present coherent story worlds? What keeps you imaginatively engaged? Do you detect a plot and character development? How does the navigation structures bring you into the story? Is linear sequencing clear, vague or unimportant? 


Watch Video Narratives…

My Boyfriend Came Back from the War, by Olia Lialina (1996)
How to Rob a Bank, by Alan Bigelow (2016)
With Those We Love Alive, Porpentine (2014)


What is the relationship between the world simulation, interaction and plot?

Ian Bogost :

  • system operations (big goals, narrative arcs) 
  • unit operations (small actions, steps in a process.)

System operations are like the familiar narrative shell of game play: Kill aliens, find gold, capture treasure, etc. Movie plots – romance, adventure, thriller – all have system operations.
“protracted, dependent, sequential, and static” – universalising structures. Grand themes.

Unit operations are the small repetitive actions – steps in a process – that carry on the game play towards the larger plots.
“succinct, discrete, referential, and dynamic”

The Terminal (2004):  theme of characters waiting – for love, recognition, or for a visa. How theme of waiting interacts with characters, setting creates meaning. Episodic micro-narratives (unit operational) rather than plot-oriented.

Twine and Unit Operations: 

With Those We Love Alive
We don’t know the goal of the game. We are thrown into unit operations. Giving choices for the player/reader to traverse a world. A mental model of a world develops over time. Engaging the imagination and building suspense. 

  1. Set the scene. Where are we at start? The task to explore/discover the story-world.
  2. Connect spaces (links allow traversal of spaces) – surprises along the way
  3. Place obstacles, objects, characters and other narrative details 
  4. Set some challenges (narrative conflict) along the way to reaching goal (game play) 
  5. Add narrative or poetic detail, evoke a world or character
  6. Make a way out, end point(s) or goal(s)

Here are Twine instructions:


Project #4 :   Hypermedia Story
DUE April 11

Digital storytelling using computational processes creates some complications for our conventional notions of story and narrative. Even though a website typically presents multiple links, giving the user a choice in navigation, that user is still following a single linear path – their own. The question and challenge for storytelling is how to design the user’s own path (navigation through media files) so that it will lead to the understanding of a story or  “story world”.

Digital stories created by and for a computer environment can include non-linear navigation, direct access to data stored in databases, variables, conditionals, search, interface design, random and parallel processes, hyperlinks and other forms of user interaction or “agency”.

In this assignment, you will explore the possibilities of storytelling using any of the above computational processes. This is an exercise that might be the start or framework of a larger idea that can develop further as a final project.

Student Hypermedia Stories:


Use AI tools to generate HTML/CSS pages. Create your own web hypertext and hypermedia (image, audio and video) story.


Open Twine – play with the story your are building. What are other storytelling  techniques you can use? 

Twine Stories for Inspiration:

  • With Those We Love Alive, by Porpentine
    With Those We Love Alive is an evocative and atmospheric story that explores themes of identity, memory, and trauma. The game has been praised for its surreal, dreamlike narrative and innovative use of multimedia elements.
  • Depression Quest (2013) – Created by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey, and Isaac Schankler, Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game that aims to simulate the experience of living with depression. The game has received praise for its empathetic portrayal of mental health struggles.
  • My Father’s Long, Long Legs (2013) – Created by Michael Lutz, this horror story is about a family dealing with the father’s strange transformation as he digs a mysterious hole in their basement. The game is notable for its eerie atmosphere and effective use of suspense.
  • The Uncle Who Works for Nintendo (2014) – Written by Michael Lutz and featuring music by Kevin MacLeod, this horror game puts the player in the shoes of a young child spending the night at their friend’s house. The game incorporates elements of urban legends and the creepypasta genre to build tension and unease.
  •  “Even Cowgirls Bleed” by Anna Anthropy:
  • “Magical Maiden Madison” by Christine Love:
  • “Arcadia” by Jonas Kyratzes:




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