Johnson-Eilola argues for taking a closer look at hypertext as a potential way in which composition “can become truly interdisciplinary and productively intertextual, working across and within the multiple discourses in which we all write and are written” (7). He argues that this potential has been compromised because of the nostalgia of the print text which keeps us from examining the possibilities of hypertext to read non-linearly. Ultimately, hypertext hasn’t lived up to its potential because it has come to mirror the hierarchy that is present in print texts.
Joyce feels that one of the possibilities for hypertext lies in the ability of the reader to become the author in some ways. He writes, “Hypertext readers not only choose the order of what they read but, in doing so, also alter its form by their choices” (19). Ultimately the author holds the ability to decide what to read and in what order, which alters the message of the text.
This came across in the notes in the text too, so I did feel like I wasn’t alone in feeling this way, but I definitely struggled in trying to figure out how these worked as a theoretical framework, especially because I was focusing so much on composition (their OoS, basically). It felt like a lot of time was spent discussing how cool hypertext is and all the potential it has. However, I feel like we never really got beyond that with these. I am thinking how this might make writers reconsider how they write, as well as readers rethink their reading practices. But it still ends up “linear” since a path has to be ultimately chosen when the text is read.
What about games?
As I considered hypertext in the context of games, I thought it might be interesting to consider. I’m still not sure about the theoretical framework I’d be applying, exactly, but if I think about hypertext in World of Warcraft, there are interesting considerations of the interface in particular and how it provides constantly hyperlinked buttons as well as hyperlinks within the chat (that is present on the typical interface) that the player constantly has to read and navigate, often at the same time, making choices about how to move about the interface while playing. Some of these texts have to be read side by side (which is possible in the game space) in order for the player to make sense out of it.
For example, the current screencapture is of my character in WoW. I’ve used one of the buttons (a hyperlink) at the bottom to bring up the menu that appears on the left. The menu (which shows up on top of my game screen; I can still move around and play with the menu open) shows my character and the equipment I currently have. Hovering over each equipment will give stat information. In the chat (bottom left), is a link in purple to an epic level necklace. The box that appears in the bottom center shows the information about the necklace. Then by hovering over my own necklace, I can compare the two equipment pieces to determine which would be better for my character. I use this example to demonstrate the way that the hyptertext in the game space becomes less linear than perhaps typical spaces such as an article online or social media feed like Facebook that expects a certain reading trajectory. Also, this is something that happens frequently in the game space, as players level up their characters as well as work on end-game content and gain more rewards, so this is fairly common reading practice that gamers in World of Warcraft must engage in.
I came to some conclusions that while the typical reading hierarchies of print do continue and resurface very clearly in our online hyptertexts, such as through articles online (that are clearly meant to mirror articles from newspapers or magazines), hypertext and the use of it in texts like games (especially considering discussions of interface) and the multi-reading that players must engage in constantly while playing might benefit from some discussion of hypertext and rethinking the reading practices of games.
Blizzard Entertainment. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. Activision Blizzard, 2012. Online.
Johnson-Eilola, Johndan. Nostalgic Angels: Rearticulating Hypertext Writing. Norwood, N.J: Ablex Pub. Corp, 1997.
Joyce, Michael. Of Two Minds: Hypertext Pedagogy and Poetics. Ann Arbor: U of MI P, 1995.