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What's in a Game? Transmedia Storytelling and the Web-Game Genre of Online Chinese Popular Fiction

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Inwood, Heather 


This paper uses a genre of online Chinese popular fiction known as Web-Game ction as an entry point for exploring the influence of Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) on linear narrative fiction. By offering a thick description of MMORPG gameplay and of gamers’ movements between online and offline worlds, Web-Game fiction narrates and “deinteractivates” the subjective experiences of players as they progress through the levels of online role-playing games. This essay proposes that the genre offers an alternative perspective on transmedia production strategies in Chinese popular culture and on the nature of immersion in online environments, often viewed in negative terms by Chinese critics who employ vocabulary such as youxihua (“gamification” or “ludification”), “YY” (yiyin, or “mental masturbation”), and chenmi (absorption or addiction) to warn of the dangers of allowing one’s imagination to run wild in mediated fictional worlds. By reading one novel from the perspectives of transmedia storytelling, remediation, and affective involvement in digital games, I suggest that Web-Game fiction is emblematic of Chinese netizens’ desire to take control of their own stories within a larger contemporary reality, the rules and parameters of which lie beyond any individual control.



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Asia Pacific Perspectives

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Center for Asia Pacific Studies

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