HomestarRunner.com; integral in the formative years of the author of this blogpost

I saw another blog post regarding a specific game, Peasant’s Quest, which, as stated in that other post, is a game constructed within the universe existing on Homestarrunner.com. The game itself is a fine example of a piece of interacive literature in the form of a game much like Anchorhead or Galatea, but after seeing this website on which I spent multiple hours per week for many months come back into my life in the hue of nostalgia, I couldn’t help but write on it as well. However, in regards to preventing too much overlap between posts and preventing plagiarism, I decided to focus on the entirety of the website itself, which, while very childish and immature in nature, is directly related to the ideas of interactivity, networks, and stories developing through electronic media.

Homestarrunner.com is an old flash website whose main story lines and characters  developed during the serial release of animated shorts and email responses to real viewers from one of the characters. The entirety of the website’s universe grew over time primarily through these short animations and email responses with many references to other popular media of the time, and the characters developed their own personalities and interrelationships. Furthermore, the creation of other character during these short animations gave way to other inventions of the website, namely Trogdor the burninator, which later became the subject of the game Peasant’s Quest, and the very quotable Teen Girl Squad, which ended up becoming its own sub series within the site, and other games available for play.

The immature nature of the story and characters does not take away from the fact that this animated website is a great example of interactive electronic literature. The site itself is the host of the entire world which contains the characters and their story, so they only really exist within the confines of the url and its links. However, through the development of these characters, the website grew, allowing for more interactivity between these characters and the viewers of the site in more ways than one. There’s the obvious interactivity given by the buttons provided on each screen, taking the viewer to different portals that make available the animated shorts that make up the story itself, the introduction to each of the characters (of which there are no more than fifteen), and the games. Though there is also the possibility of actually emailing on of the characters, StrongBad, a luchador themed character, whose weekly shorts involved responding to viewers’ emails, which undoubtedly provided the highest form of comedic relief to an adolescent boy.

The website is a good example of the type of networked interactive electronic media because even though it has not real substance to the material it presents, it is set up as a framework of interrelated short animations that involve the same characters and together combine to create a larger story. In addition, the viewers are able to interact with the media/characters in many ways, including watching the animations, reading through the emails, playing the games, (which not only involve the characters themselves but also sometimes the creations of the characters), all in a complicated world, which is all confined within the url of the website. I thank the other blog poster that mentioned peasant’s quest, seeing as I am now refinding my way through the website, which is extremely entertaining, and allowed me to find the subject of this blog post. I feel bad about the overlap, but they are separate concepts, so there is plenty to relate to class in regards to each.

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One Response to HomestarRunner.com; integral in the formative years of the author of this blogpost

  1. Steph Roman says:

    This is fascinating. I vaguely remember this site, but I definitely remember the part about Strongbad answering real emails. In my popular culture class this term, we talked about “participatory culture” in fandom, and this is a superb example of that. Rather than just make fan films or write fanfiction, Homestarrunner’s visitors (mostly kids or early teens it appears) could virtually interact with one of the characters—which is truly incredible considering how old it actually is (I find it hard to believe it’s still in existence, actually). I think if you wanted to expand this further, the first chapter in “The Exploit” talks a lot more about digitized bodies and interconnected nodes. There might be some prime material there if you wanted to write an essay on the participation of the audience in digital media.

    Like

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