Feelies: The Lost Art of Immersing the Narrative

This paper discusses the materializations of story world entities that are distributed with game packaging, here referred to as feelies, as props that support narrative elements in story-driven digital games. The narrative support is suggested to function on global and local levels, where the first one refers to the immersive effects concerning the story world, and the latter to the immersive effects concerning the situation in which the player is accommodated to via a player character. Additionally, analog feelies are suggested to possess a tactile aspect that has the potential to enhance their immersive impact at both effective levels. These concepts will be explored through early text adventures Deadline (Infocom 1982) and Witness (Infocom 1983).


In addition to the written documents, the case file includes a photo of the murder scene and a bag of pills “found near the victim’s body.” While these items do not convey relevant information, they are significant in a liminal sense. Here the term “liminal” refers to Murray’s (1997, 99–100) idea of computers as “liminal objects, located on the threshold between external reality and our own minds.” Relying on Donald Winnicott (1971; see also Turner 1969) she believes that stories are able to produce experiences that “evoke the same magical feelings as a baby’s first teddy bear” because they give adults a similar object upon which to project their feelings. While feelies primarily convey information about the story world, they also possess a physical, tactile aspect. In addition to the liminal story, players get the teddy as well. —Feelies: The Lost Art of Immersing the Narrative