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‘You Were all the World Like a Beach to me’. The Use of Second Person Address to Create Multiple Storyworlds in Literary Video Games: ‘Dear Esther’, a Case Study.

Heidi Ann Colthup


This paper focuses on the problematic overlapping uses of ‘you’ within the video game Dear Esther (The Chinese Room, 2012) and how this gives rise to an uneasy and personalised experience rather than a fixed canonical reading. Dear Esther is a Walking Simulator and this type of video game is concerned with telling a story and not the conventional binary win or lose outcome of many other video games. The simple game mechanics reliant upon the player moving around a simulated space in order to learn the story means that a literary analysis is better suited to understanding the transmedia story worlds. Literary fiction uses multiple varieties of second person address to create story worlds, Walking Simulators encourage players to actively identify themselves not with but as the main story protagonist, and the use of second person address largely drives this identification.


Dear Esther (game); storyworlds; second-person address; narratology; literary video game; digital fiction; immersion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/ijtl-2018-005-colt

International Journal of Transmedia Literacy (IJTL)
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (22/10/2014 n. 328)
Online ISSN 2465-2261 - Print ISSN 2465-227X

Editor in Chief: Matteo Ciastellardi
Managing Editor: Giovanna Di Rosario
Managing Committee: Matteo Andreozzi, Stefano Calzati, Ugo Eccli, Cristina Miranda de Almeida.

Board Committee: Alan Albarran (University of North Texas, United States), Rogério Barbosa Da Silva (Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil), Giovanni Baule (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Laura Borràs Castanyer (Universitat de Barcelona, Spain), Derrick de Kerckhove (Politecnico di Milano, Italy), Henry Jenkins (University of Southern California, United States), Marsha Kinder (University of Southern California, United States), Raine Koskimaa (University of Jyväskylä, Finland), George Landow (Brown University, United States), Paul Levinson (Fordham University, United States), Asún López-Varela (Universidad Complutense, Spain), Lev Manovich (City University of New York, United States), Nick Montfort (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States), Marcos Novak (UCLA - University of California, Los Angeles, United States), Massimo Parodi (Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy), Bruce W. Powe (York University, Canada), Kate Pullinger (Bath Spa University, United Kingdom), Marie-Laure Ryan (Indipendent Scholar), Alexandra Saemmer (Université Paris 8, France), Carlos Scolari (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain), Susana Tosca (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark), Alessandro Zinna (Université Toulouse II, France)

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