Suspending Virtual Disbelief: A Perspective on Narrative Coherence

  • Veli-Matti Karhulahti
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7648)


The paper accommodates Espen Aarseth’s concept of virtuality and Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s concept of suspension of disbelief to the context of modern story forms. The primary focus will be on the videogame. The premise is that suspending disbelief at narrative improbabilities is a skill required to construct narrative coherence. Constructing narrative coherence of stories that contain virtual elements entails supplementary suspension of disbelief at virtual improbabilities, suspension of virtual disbelief. Since increasing the degree of virtuality often increases the requisite traversal effort, virtuality can be said to set increased demands on story traversal as well. This results in the dilemma of virtual balance: while virtuality has the potential to strengthen diegesis, it on the other hand sets heightened demands on story traversal and narrative coherence. The concluding argument is that these heightened demands may be turned into rhetorical tools.


Virtuality suspension of disbelief aesthetics narration rhetoric 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Veli-Matti Karhulahti
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TurkuTurkuFinland

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