Espen Aarseth

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Espen J. Aarseth
Born1965 (age 55–56)
EducationPhD, MA, BA University of Bergen
Known forGame studies, hypertext theory, and electronic literature

Espen J. Aarseth (born 1965 in Bergen, Norway) is a figure in the fields of video game studies and electronic literature.[1] Aarseth completed his doctorate at the University of Bergen. He co-founded the Department of Humanistic Informatics[2] at the University of Bergen, and worked there until 2003, at which time he was a full professor. He is currently a full professor and Head of Center at the Center for Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen.[3]

Aarseth's works include groundbreaking Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins UP 1997) book, which was originally his doctoral thesis. Cybertext focuses on mechanical organization of texts by placing the medium as a critical part of literary exchanges. The book introduces the concept of ergodic literature, which is a text that requires non-trivial effort to be traversed. The book also contains a well-known (pre-ludological) theory, "typology of cybertext" which allows ergodic texts to be classified by their functional qualities. (In Aarseth's later work with Solveig Smedstad & Lise Sunnanå this typology of cybertext transforms into "a multi-dimensional typology of games".)[4]

Aarseth also wrote an article, "Nonlinearity and Literary Theory", which was published in Hyper/Text/Theory and The New Media Reader. The article discusses the concept behind nonlinear texts, stepping away from the category of hypertext and delving into different types of media which can also be considered nonlinear. He identifies nonlinear texts as objects of verbal communication in which the words or sequence of words may differ from reading to reading. He also outlines the different categories and varieties of nonlinear texts. Additionally, he talks about how writing is more than just signs and symbols. Writing can be broken down into two units which are called textons and scriptons. The essay also discusses hypertext fiction in depth as well as works of interactive fiction, such as Colossal Cave Adventure, and MUDs.[5]

Aarseth is now the Editor in Chief of Game Studies,[6] the oldest peer reviewed journal in the field of game studies, and member of the Advisory Board of G|A|M|E,[7] a journal of comparative videogame analysis.


  1. ^ "Espen J. Aarseth (author of Cybertext)". Goodreads. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Espen Aarseth". Center for Computer Games Research Copenhagen. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  4. ^ Aarseth, Espen (2003), "A multi-dimensional typology of games", in Copier, Marinka; Raessens, Joost (eds.), Level Up: Digital Games Research Conference Proceedings, Digital Games Research Association and Utrecht University, archived from the original on 2012-03-10
  5. ^ Aarseth, Espen J. (2003). "Nonlinearity and Literary Theory". In Wardrip-Fruin, Noah; Montfort, Nick (eds.). The New Media Reader. MIT Press. pp. 762–780. ISBN 978-0-262-23227-2.
  6. ^ Editorial Board for the Game Studies journal
  7. ^ Editorial Board for the G|A|M|E journal

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