Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Morgan Read-Davidson

Second Advisor

Jana Remy

Third Advisor

David Winnick


In recent years, having evolved beyond solely play-based interactions, it is now possible to analyze video games alongside other narrative forms, such as novels and films. Video games now involve rich stories that require input and interaction on behalf of the player. This level of agency likens video games to a kind of modern hypertext, networking and weaving various narrative threads together, something which traditional modes of media lack. When examined from the lens of reader-response criticism, this interaction deepens even further, acknowledging the player’s experience as a valid interpretation of a video game’s plot. The wide freedom of choice available to players, in terms of both play and story, in 2007’s Mass Effect, along with its critical reception, represents a turning point in the study of video games as literature, exemplifying the necessity for player input in undergoing a narrative-filled journey. Active participation and non-linear storytelling, typified through gaming, are major steps in the next the evolution of narrative techniques, which requires the broadening of literary criticism to incorporate this new development.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


I would like to gratefully acknowledge the various people who have journeyed with me in making this thesis possible. First, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to my mother, Sonia, and my brothers, Marc, Max, and Adam. Throughout the struggles and trials of this thesis, they have been a constant source of ease and encouragement. Thank you. Secondly, I would like to thank my director and friend, Morgan-Read Davidson, who has encouraged and challenged me to be an exemplary academic. In himself, Morgan has modeled what is to be a scholar. Thirdly, special thanks to my cohort and members of my graduating class, who made my time at Chapman University a delight. I am sure you could all write my thesis for me by now, given the time you all contributed to the discussion of its contents. Fourthly, I would like to thank the members of the English Department and leadership of Chapman University, who have allowed and enabled me to complete this project. I hope that my academic encounters over the last years have prepared me well for intellectual engagement outside of the university. Lastly, I would like to thank you, the reader, for putting in the time to read this thesis. It has been a delight and privilege to combine together research with gaming, and ludology with narratology.



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