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Title: Identification and character : negotiating between inferred authority and reader causality in prose novels and video games
Author: Buchanan, Greg Roy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6058 0991
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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In this thesis I undertake a comparison of novels and video games in order to clarify the ontological and ethical processes involved in reader construction of fictional characters. I demonstrate how the sequences of novels necessitate inference of textual authority. In contrast, although video games offer control over sequence, such control is unstable and can be compared with the effects of reader emotional engagement where inference as to what might happen in a narrative will often transform into what should happen next on behalf of various characters. Furthermore, I argue that as all characters must be constructed and staged on an ongoing basis for any feeling of allegiance to be sustained, identification should be seen as representing the ongoing construction and evaluation of all fictional characters in a given text. As a result of these arguments, I propose the concept of reader/player causality, by which I refer to the general philosophical orientation underpinning what the player brings to the text in this regard even beyond what textual revelations can erase. In video games, for example, players seem synonymous with their avatars, but frequently game narratives will provide explanations for player actions that are inconsistent with the real life player’s intention, with the player’s initial bias still affecting the character produced. Reader causality operates in a similar way where the reader’s wish for certain events to occur will likewise affect interpretation and identification even if subsequent narrative events contradict prior assumptions or wishes. In turn, the reader’s acceptance of such additions or alterations to characters carries with it ethical responsibility and choice. In this manner, I define identification as the imposition of reader causality/feeling combined with the absorption of diegetic rewriting of all characters in a text on a moment-by-moment basis with new versions negotiated in contract with inferred authority.
Supervisor: Elliott, Jane Kathryn ; Lavagnino, John David ; Franklin, Sebastian ; Saunders, Max William Mill Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available