Dr. Anastasia SalterToday we welcome Dr. Anastasia Salter, assistant professor of digital media at the University of Central Florida. I met Dr. Salter recently at an academic symposium where she gave the keynote address and spoke about gamification of the classroom. Her career in digital media and game creation stems from her childhood love of reading and playing heroic fantasy. Her new book, which comes out in a couple of days, is about how technology is changing storytelling. We’ll send an e-copy to one commenter (or you can choose a book from our stacks).

If you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up twenty years ago, I probably would have answered Raistlin Majere. Former (and current DRAGONLANCE fans, try not to look at me too suspiciously. Raistlin struck me as the perfect antihero: just enough cynicism and weaknesses that I could imagine myself in his shoes, questing for magical power and saving the world for the most selfish of reasons.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsOf course, one of the voices behind the creation of Raistlin – Terry Phillips – got to take Raistlin on that journey, as he played the character in the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games that preceded and inspired the writing of the DRAGONLANCE novels. That tie between story and game fascinated me, and my copy of Super Endless Quest Adventures #4: The Soulforge (a “choose your own adventure” style version of Raistlin’s test to join the ranks of wizards) is falling apart at the seams. My journeys playing Raistlin in that gamebook and Dungeons & Dragons games were the beginning of a lifelong love of playable stories, and the different ways we play at heroism.

My new book, What Is Your Quest? From Adventure Games to Interactive Books, is a survey of the fantastical quests we play and the characters we accompany, from Sir Graham and Princess Rosella in the heroic King’s Quest series to the book-flying Mr. Morris Lessmore of the Moonbot Studios iOS app. Such fantastical journeys can spawn genres, platforms, technologies and mediums.

Whose story do you wish you could play, and perhaps change or take over with your own actions? Where would their paths lead if you had your way?

Readers, we’ll send an e-copy of What Is Your Quest? to one commenter (or you can choose a book from our stacks).

Publication Date: November 1, 2014. What Is Your Quest? examines the future of electronic literature in a world where tablets and e-readers are becoming as common as printed books and where fans are blurring the distinction between reader and author. The construction of new ways of storytelling is already underway: it is happening on the edges of the mainstream gaming industry and in the spaces between media, on the foundations set by classic games. Along these margins, convergent storytelling allows for playful reading and reading becomes a strategy of play. One of the earliest models for this new way of telling stories was the adventure game, the kind of game centered on quests in which the characters must overcome obstacles and puzzles. After they fell out of fashion in the 1990s, fans made strenuous efforts to keep them alive and to create new games in the genre. Such activities highlight both the convergence of game and story and the collapsing distinction between reader and author. Continually defying the forces of obsolescence, fans return abandoned games to a playable state and treat stories as ever-evolving narratives. Similarly, players of massive multiplayer games become co-creators of the game experience, building characters and creating social networks that recombine a reading and gaming community. The interactions between storytellers and readers, between programmers and creators, and among fans turned world-builders are essential to the development of innovative ways of telling stories. And at the same time that fan activities foster the convergence of digital gaming and storytelling, new and increasingly accessible tools and models for interactive narrative empower a broadening range of storytellers. It is precisely this interactivity among a range of users surrounding these new platforms that is radically reshaping both e-books and games and those who read and play with them.


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.