Emotional responses to interactive fictions
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We commonly feel a variety of emotional responses to works of fiction. In this thesis I propose to examine what we understand by the terms fictional and narrative, and to describe what sorts of narrator might be required within a narrative work. Of particular interest are interactive works of art, both narrative and non-narrative, and I provide a definition of what features a work should possess if it should properly be considered interactive. I discuss the notions of interactive narratives and examine how interactivity affects any possible narrator. I examine the paradox of fiction - how it is that we can feel emotions towards characters we know not to exist, and suggest how the paradox can be dissolved. I further discuss how it can be rational to feel these emotional responses and note particular responses that it does not seem possible to feel rationally when engaging with non-interactive narratives. I then examine what effect the introduction of interactivity to both non-narrative and narrative works has, and argue that it reduces the control the artist has to direct our emotions, but increases the range of emotions which we can feel. Finally I suggest that some of the emotional responses that would be irrational to feel when engaging with non-interactive narrative works can be rational when we are engaged with their interactive counterparts, but that at least one emotional response cannot genuinely be felt rationally even in interactive cases.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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