Hamlet on the Holodeck, updated edition
The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace
440 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: April 7, 2017
An updated edition of the classic book on digital storytelling, with a new introduction and expansive chapter commentaries.
I want to say to all the hacker-bards from every field—gamers, researchers, journalists, artists, programmers, scriptwriters, creators of authoring systems... please know that I wrote this book for you.”
—Hamlet on the Holodeck, from the author's introduction to the updated edition
Janet Murray's Hamlet on the Holodeck was instantly influential and controversial when it was first published in 1997. Ahead of its time, it accurately predicted the rise of new genres of storytelling from the convergence of traditional media forms and computing. Taking the long view of artistic innovation over decades and even centuries, it remains forward-looking in its description of the development of new artistic traditions of practice, the growth of participatory audiences, and the realization of still-emerging technologies as consumer products. This updated edition of a book the New Yorker calls a “cult classic” offers a new introduction by Murray and chapter-by-chapter commentary relating Murray's predictions and enduring design insights to the most significant storytelling innovations of the past twenty years, from long-form television to artificial intelligence to virtual reality.
Murray identifies the powerful new set of expressive affordances that computing offers for the ancient human activity of storytelling and considers what would be necessary for interactive narrative to become a mature and compelling art form. Her argument met with some resistance from print loyalists and postmodern hypertext enthusiasts, and it provoked a foundational debate in the emerging field of game studies on the relationship between narrative and videogames. But since Hamlet on the Holodeck's publication, a practice that was largely speculative has been validated by academia, artistic practice, and the marketplace. In this substantially updated edition, Murray provides fresh examples of expressive digital storytelling and identifies new directions for narrative innovation.
This book was very influential for me as I considered cofounding Oculus Story Studio! I couldn't actually believe there was a book on the exact subject that would be so important for Story Studio: the intersection of immersive drama, interactivity and storytelling, and Star Trek.
Edward Saatchi, cofounder of Oculus Story Studio
In 1997, Hamlet on the Holodeck built bridges between narrative arts and the computing technologies. Two decades later, the new updated edition makes those bridges even stronger by taking into account the multiple directions that games, virtual worlds, digital storytelling, and related research have taken during the intervening years. As a source of inspiration and reflection for student and developer alike, the new edition is of exceptionally high value.
Frans Mäyrä, Professor, Head of Game Research Lab, University of Tampere, Finland
It's been over a decade since I last read Hamlet on the Holodeck, and Janet Murray's work is as prescient today as it was then. I can't recommend this enough as a landmark book on interactive media. Time and time again, history has demonstrated that Murray has got the future right.
Jamin Warren, founder, Kill Screen
In its exploration of the ways in which we find pleasure in responsive narratives, Hamlet on the Holodeck offers foundational insights for all in digital cultural studies and game studies. Murray's beloved text is a classic, and the updates continue to keep prescient thinking relevant and fresh, renewing debates about key notions of agency and immersion that are useful to designers, scholars, players, and readers today.
Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities, Dartmouth College