Conference paper Open Access

It's More Like a Tendency: Trajectories of the Literary in Kentucky Route Zero

Stein, Eric

After seven years of development, the final act of Cardboard Computer's Kentucky Route Zero was released in January of 2020 to widespread acclaim. Hailed by the games scholar and critic Trever Strunk as a "novelistic accomplishment," Kentucky Route Zero has consistently surprised and delighted players with its clever writing, subtly realized characters, and moody set design, while also challenging these players by continually innovating upon both its gamic and literary conventions across its five acts and five interludes. Inasmuch as Kentucky Route Zero might be described as "novelistic," however, the game remains a game, requiring players and readers alike to reconsider what such descriptors as "novelistic" might mean within the interactive space of digital games. To this end, the proposed paper examines the literariness of Kentucky Route Zero, presenting a preliminary framework for more in-depth studies of the game as a literary work.

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