Immersion and Fictionality in Westworld

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Jiménez, Maximiliano. "Immersion and Fictionality in Westworld" (main title in Review) / “'Gratify the Desires of the People that Visit Your World': Immersion and Fictionality in Westworld". SFRA Review 327 (Winter 2019): 14-17.

Jiménez uses the cybertext concept for his thesis (from Espen Aarseth, Cybertexts: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. [Johns Hopkins UP, 1997]).

[...] in directly engaging with worlding [= world-building] as part of its plot, Westworld draws attention to the increasing ease with which we literally access and inhabit fictional worlds in the 21st century. As a result of the interest in this fiction-reality dichotomy, alongside the exploration of identity and humanity as common science-fictional themes, [...] the TV series hints at a possible new conceptualization — or perhaps questioning — of fictionality in terms of how we are now relating to narrative in its various forms. Since the critique of fictionality in Westworld responds to the series’s depiction of a universe in which the boundary between fiction and reality is not only blurred, but thematically addressed [...] I focus particularly on notions of diegesis, fictionality, and corporeality to ultimately wonder where lies the conceptual distinction between fiction and reality. (p. 15)

Suggests that Westworld/Westworld can be thought of as similar to an interactive game, where "the show presents and theorizes the role of the park’s guests as players, readers, and even characters, which [...] ultimately means the dramatization of contemporary reading and/or gaming practices in the context of fiction." Westworld

is not a place in a different realm or ontological plane, as happens with the worlds projected in the novel and film adaptation of Ready Player One (2011, 2018) or even in THE MATRIX trilogy (1999-2003), to present some well-known examples. The Westworld park is indeed separated from the real world in that it occupies a large island somewhere, it seems, in the Pacific Ocean, but the guests merely need to get there, put on a cowboy hat, and holster a couple of guns to be fully “immersed” in this other reality — no need to be plugged in and “leave” their physical bodies behind. (p. 15, lightly edited for format)

Includes a useful list of Works Cited.

RDE, Initial Compiler, 25May20