Do you like to read? Do you like to watch Youtube videos? Do you like to play video games? Of course you do, which is why you will love my upcoming project Enchanted Assemblages. (Deleuzian fans, rejoice!)
But I will not bore you with the exact theoretical details. The idea behind this project is I will adapt Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur into a multi-media interactive novel.
Novel is a bit of a strong word, though, because the project is a hybrid experience.
One part of it is reading, yes, the individual chapters which make up a significant part of the story. But another part is youtube video entries by the characters in this world while the final part is interactive fiction pieces coded by me.
What does this all mean, you may be asking? Why am I telling you about this weird little project of mine? Okay, you say, you have these chapters you are going to write, you have these videos you are going to shoot, and something called “interactive fiction” you are going to code… and?
All excellent points.
First and foremost, Enchanted Assemblages is an educational project. Each installment, whether it is a chapter or a video, is accompanied by links and PDFs designed to be read by the reader/player. These readings content– their theory and philosophy– can be seen and discussed within each chapter or video. Readers, then, are expected to learn the contents of each attachment, engage with the video, and learn alongside reading Thomas Malory’s book for themselves.
This project, then, is a project to accompany an undergraduate’s engagement with Le Morte Darthur. Scholarly pieces accompany each chapter, the videos act as study guides to each chapter, while the final piece, the interactive fiction, is supposed to be a practical arena– a testing ground– for readers engagement with the material, something for them to apply the skills and knowledge they have learned from each book, reading, and chapter. Taken over the course of the entirety of Le Morte Darthur, students are expected to cumulatively apply their learning to ultimately understand the historical, social, and literary context of Malory’s text.
It is a big undertaking. Philosophically, the project is grounded in what is called “procedural rhetoric”. This is a fancy way of saying “you learn by the mechanics of gameplay”. This is to be taken literally in that someone is imparted knowledge literally as they engage with a text; this is like saying that someone can learn how to operate a gun by playing a video game. Not impossible but one has to very carefully design that game.
For me, this is why one-third of this adaptation is based in “interactive fiction”, essentially, carefully planned ‘choose your own stories’ which allow for a greater degree of control by the player. With these pieces of interactive fiction, players are expected to navigate a virtual rendition of each of Malory’s “books” while paying attention to how the material they learned previously, will help them in completing the unique challenges which await them in each level (so to speak). If readers do not actively engage with the accompanying texts, then they will not be able to finish the game.
What behavior I hope this encourages is an academic focus. I hope newcomers will read the attached essays, articles, and scholarship to each installment of my adaptation, and take delight in critically examining a text as they explore it for the first time. What I wish will be fostered in a sense of playing through a role-playing game but one more academically inclined.
As somebody fascinated with New Media and the expanses in which classical literature may be molded in shapes in our modern world, I am excited to engage with this project. It has, after all, been a long time in the making with several false-starts. Now, I am looking forward to the labor of finally getting done this project for real.
Though this project won’t be done for many months, around a year, I hope you will play it when I am done; I will give plenty of updates along the way, so if you feel the need to chime in and make it better, I am all ears. I will be putting my heart and soul into this undertaking and though that is a bit melodramatic, what is not melodramatic, is my desire to see something blossom from this project. I truly hope that people will encounter this adaptation, give Malory a go, and find something special in medieval literature that they never would have even given a second thought previously.
So, that is my story and the end of my rave. I know that it will be up to me to convince you, so until then, I will leave you ado. In the next update, I will acquaint you with the unique world that this adaptation takes place in and why it will be a place which any Humanities major should feel right at home.