Barry Atkins
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Fantastically real
Reading Tomb Raider

The questions of form examined in this chapter follow from the central premise that Tomb Raider can be ‘read’ as fiction, and as self-conscious fiction in which serious play is made not just in game terms, but in terms that literary critics would recognise as play with the possibilities and limitations of storytelling. It is shown that some aspects of this self-consciousness are the result of what might be termed deliberate ‘authorial’ intention or design, and include (but sometimes go beyond) mere parody and pastiche. Potentially more interesting formal characteristics emerge, with the game designers' conscious help or without it, from the meeting of technology with what is referred to as ‘reader’ as well as ‘player’. In taking in such questions as how this fiction ‘works’ in a formal sense, and what the relationship is between this fictional mode and the other fictional modes it draws upon and alludes to, the chapter hopes to justify the claim that the Tomb Raider series is a representative, however primitive, of a new fictional form.

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More than a game

The computer game as fictional form


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