Possible approaches to the reception of digital media: the case of Myst

Anne Mangen
Volda College, Norway
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Abstract: The digital adventure game Myst, and its follow-up Riven, has won a great deal of attention from scholars within the field of digital media. The game is of special interest for media research for many reasons - primarily because of its preoccupation with, and use of, other media: not only is the plot in the game orchestrated around the quest for a lost Book, but many of the solutions to the riddles postulated during the play are to be found in the textual material presented in and by the books in the library at the mysterious island. Some call this type of game an interactive movie, remediating the cinema film (Bolter, Remediation); there is important information presented in video format and animation otherwise, apart from text - i.e., literature. With Myst as the empirical starting point for my discussion, I will discuss different approaches to the reception of digital media - namely semiotics (primarily Peircean/Eco), information theory (entropy and redundancy), theories of aesthetic reception (Iser, Arnheim), and the notion of remediation (Bolter), to see in what respect and to what extent they shed light on the ways games like Myst generate its reception.

About the Presenter: Cand. philol. (Master thesis, comparative literature) 1997. Ph.D.-student Volda College 2000-2003, supervisor: professor Bjørn Sørenssen, NTNU. Working title for doctoral project: perception/reception of multi-media in light of the notions of entropy and redundancy. Lecturer at the University of Tromsoe, dept. of documentation studies 1997-99. Lecturer at Volda College, dept. of media studies, 1999-2000.