|Espen J. Aarseth|
|Field||Game Theory, hypertext theory, and electronic literature|
|Training||PhD, MA, BA University of Bergen|
Espen J. Aarseth is a major figure in the emerging fields of video game studies and electronic literature. Aarseth was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1965 and completed his doctorate at the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Bergen. He co-founded the Department of Humanistic Informatics  at the University of Bergen, and worked there until 2003, at which time he was a full professor. He is currently Principal Researcher at the Center of Computer Games Research at the IT University of Copenhagen .
He is one of the most prominent figures among what are called the "ludologists," a group of thinkers characterized by their insistence on treating video games not as a form of narrative or as a text, but instead simply as games, with the dynamics of play and interaction being the most important and fundamental part of the games. The ludologists are contrasted by the so-called "narrativists" such as Janet Murray and Henry Jenkins. In another opinion, the dualism ludology-narratology is quite artificial. Ludology does not exclude the so-called "narratology". See Gonzalo Frasca's article "Ludologists love stories, too: notes from a debate that never took place" .
Aarseth's works include groundbreaking Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (Johns Hopkins UP 1997) book, which was originally his doctoral thesis. Cybertext focuses on mechanical organization of texts by placing the medium as a critical part of literary exchanges. The book introduces the concept of ergodic literature, which is a text that requires non-trivial effort to be traversed. The book also contains a well-known (pre-ludological) theory, "typology of cybertext" which allows ergodic texts to be classified by their functional qualities. (In Aarseth's later work with Solveig Smedstad & Lise Sunnanå this typology of cybertext transforms into "a multi-dimensional typology of games", published in the book Level Up conference proceedings 2003 (eds. Copier & Raessens, Utrecht University & Digra)).
Aarseth also wrote an article, Nonlinearity and Literary Theory, which was published in Hyper/Text/Theory and The New Media Reader. The article discusses the concept behind nonlinear texts, stepping away from the category of hypertext and delving into different types of media which can also be considered nonlinear. He identifies nonlinear texts as objects of verbal communication in which the words or sequence of words may differ from reading to reading. He also outlines the different categories and varieties of nonlinear texts. Additionally, he talks about how writing is more than just signs and symbols. Writing can be broken down into two units which are called textons and scriptons. The essay also discusses hypertext fiction in depth as well as works of interactive fiction, such as Adventure.