Fiction or Reality? I Just Don’t Know Anymore

The main premise of The Unwritten is centered on Tom Taylor, a bitter person who is portrayed as the opposite in his father’s novels that have made him a fortune. At a comic book convention, Tom encounters a girl named Lizzy Hexham who accuses him of being a different person than who he really is. In addition, Tom’s father vanished out of nowhere and his whereabouts are unknown. Soon enough Tom is on a journey that fuses fiction and reality, and is motivated to find out his true identity. His life becomes hellish and he encounters a hectic adventure that is secretly controlled by a group of men whom intend to keep his father’s disappearance a secret, along with the true meaning of Tom’s significance in life. As Tom’s life becomes a prolonged mystery, he encounters villains from his father’s novels, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein monster, a flying cat named Mingus, and other eccentric characters. The boundaries between reality and fantasy become increasingly blurred, and Tom begins to wonder whether he is a real person or just a fictional character.


The Unwritten utilizes and combines various media aspects that add to the advancement of the story line and contribute to the fusion of traditional comic story-telling tools along with famous elements of fan subcultures.  Throughout his adventure, Tom struggles to discern what was reality and what was fantasy, and whether he was a real person or not. As noted by McGonical, the contemplation by fans to distinguish fantasy from reality causes questions to emerge and unpredictable interaction to occur. In immersive games, players are constantly trying to figure out what the boundaries and limits of the game are. “The desire of immersive fans to see a game where non actually exists brings one into existence.” Players of immersive games can sometimes becomes so engaged in the game that they may wrongly interpret something as a next clue or message to advance the game. A prime example of this is Shove players as described in McGonical’s article. These players who felt that the Push Nevada game ended poorly actually interpreted this poor ending as not actually being the end. Because they played the game for such a long time, and put in so much effort into solving the puzzles out, they assumed that the game could not end this poorly and interpreted it as just another step in the game. “Rampant and playful hypothesizing subsequently erupted about the possibility that the officially announced game was just a decoy for the “real” game, to which only the most diehard immersive gamers would be privy.” Unfortunately they were wrong.



The presence of collective intelligence and fan collaboration is also present in The Unwritten. After being accused of being a fictional character by Lizzy Hexham, a vast amount of fans began to collaborate via blogs, online forums, and other media platforms that allowed them to become connected and try to figure out Tom’s true identity together. This is similar to the Cloudmakers in McGonical’s article whom worked together as a large singular brain to successfully maneuver through their immersive game.



“The 7500+ people in this group … we are all one. We have made manifest the idea of an unbelievably intricate intelligence. We are one mind, one voice …made of 7500+ neurons… We sit back and look at

our monitors, and our keyboards…our window to this vast collective consciousness… we are not alone. We are not one person secluded from the rest of the world…kept apart by the technology we have embraced. We have become a part of it through the technology. We have become a part of something greater than ourselves”

For many of the Cloudmakers, this harmonious unison of intelligence was the best part of the game.



In general, I found The Unwritten to be a great read, and I loved the combination of fictional elements with reality.  The story really does relate to real world aspects of blurring boundaries between fiction and reality and the implementation of collective intelligence by immersive gamers.

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