E-Literature: Exploring a lyric literary work for Oculus Rift – The future of Electronic Literature.



As technology continues to advance, both online and offline, the way in which literary works can be produced and shared is transforming. We were firstly presented with the E-book, which did not only change the way the physical content of a literary work was presented, but how the user experienced that content (Staiger, 2012). The introduction of the electronic journal primarily for academic purposes was a huge step in increasing the accessibility of scholarly articles. Having previously delved into the world of Interactive Documentaries, the area of lyric literary works proved interesting.  Caitlin Fisher’s “Everyone at this party is dead” is a unique, individual work, which is one of the first literary works intended for Oculus Rift. For those without access to a VR headset, a browser edition is available, which adds to the universality of this work


This work is unique, in that it is completely interactive, and this enables each user to have a different experience every time this lyric literary work is explored.  Like any other text or piece of literature, this work has a narrative. What makes this particular type of narrative unique, is that the user determines which parts of the story they unveil at any given time. The entire experience is user dependent. Navigation within the work is determined by the user, as well as what objects are clicked on.


Setting the scene fjjjor this work, the user finds themselves in an outdoor setting, clearly in the middle of some sort of celebration, this is represented by the sounds of wine glasses, conversation and laughing. It is not until you explore your surroundings further that the actual narrative comes to life. Upon clicking on ‘tear-shaped’ objects, the user is propelled into the life and death of those who attended that party. The narrative is of an autobiographical style, depending on where the user navigates in the world of the lyric literary work, a particular narrative about a character is heard. Through the interactivity and user involvement within this work, a level of empathy is felt for the narrator, who can presumed to be the one reflecting on those who have died.

As the user explores the landscape, various object can be collected along the way. Collecting these objects can be viewed as gathering a collection of memories. The more objects that can be collected, the more information is revealed about the lives and subsequently the death of the people who were once at this celebratory gathering.

There as an aspect of this work which comes across almost haunting, leaves you feeling on edge after the entire experience. For a lyric literary work to have this much of an impact on its users is remarkable. Experiencing this work through a VR headset, as it was originally intended for would further immerse the user in the story.

It is through works like these, that the extent to which digital technology is transforming the way in which literature can be presented and interpreted (Tabbi, 2010). Each user experiences a slightly weren’t version of events, depending on how they interact with the work. Being one of the first lyric literary works intended for Oculus rift, this work paves the way for further development in this field. This work can be regarded as a unique intersection of game mechanics and storytelling, without the need for a gaming console.

Fisher’s “Everyone at This Part Is Dead” can be found here https://projeqt.com/caitlin/cardamom/



Electronic Literature Directory (2016) Individual Work Everyone at the Party is Dead [online] Available at: http://directory.eliterature.org/individual-work/4765 (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Pianka, J. (2016) Literal Immersion: Narrative Game Design in VR. Entropy [online] Available at: http://entropymag.org/literal-immersion-narrative-game-design-in-vr/ (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Staiger, J. (2012) How E-books Are Used: A Literature Review of the E-book Studies Conducted from 2006 to 2011. Reference and User Services Association [online].51(4) Available at: https://journals.ala.org/rusq/article/view/3919/4393 (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Tabbi, J. (2010) Electronic Literature as World Literature; or,The Universality of Writing under Constraint.PoeticsToday[online].31(1),17-50.Available at: http://poeticstoday.dukejournals.org/content/31/1/17.full.pdf+html (Accessed 12 December 2016)