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Comparative Textual MediaTransforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era$
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N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816680030

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816680030.001.0001

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Dwarven Epitaphs: Procedural Histories in Dwarf Fortress

Dwarven Epitaphs: Procedural Histories in Dwarf Fortress

Chapter:
(p.125) 6 Dwarven Epitaphs: Procedural Histories in Dwarf Fortress
Source:
Comparative Textual Media
Author(s):

Stephanie Boluk

Patrick LeMieux

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816680030.003.0006

Dwarf Fortress, an online computer game, attracts dedicated players who devote untold hours to it, yet it sacrifices the realistic visuals so dominant in most computer games in favor of computational intensity. Its procedures put into action multiple agents and agencies, whose interactions then create the environment and its inhabitants (human and nonhuman) as emergent results. Players can intervene by giving the dwarfs commands and making changes in the environment, but their control is never absolute, as the nonhuman mechanics of the game create unexpected and unpredictable consequences. That such a difficult and esoteric game would have generated its own community of expert readers/writers is perhaps not surprising (providing a striking parallel with Johnson’s discussion of the expert communities of readers/writers of bookrolls in the Greco-Roman period); more startling is the appearance of premodern literary forms such as the annal and chronicle.

Keywords:   media specificity, media materiality, media framework, practice-based research, recursivity, media theory, curricula reform

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