Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Media, Game, Reality, Video, Literature, Virtual Reality, Video Games, Player

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/07

Self-reference is defined as “reference made to oneself” and can be found in a variety of different forms, from an artist’s self-portrait to an auto-biography. In the postmodern era of electronic media in all its various form, more extensive self-reference has begun to occur. “Self-reference in the Media” by Winfried Noth examines various aspects of self-reference that are far more prevalent in today’s age of media and why this has occurred. Noth states that, “The arts and the media have become increasingly self-referential. Instead of showing or representing the world as seen or experienced by the mediators of art”. (Noth) If this is in fact the case what has caused this increase in self-reference? It could simply be part of the natural evolution of media, in all its forms, caused by a lessening of original thought and mediation.
When it comes to video game characters acknowledging their own selves and the computer they use as a medium, does this create a stronger connection between the player and the game? Or does it ruin the experience by reminding the user of reality?(Duffy) While Winfried Noth delves into an in-depth analysis of the topic it is Jill Duffy’s questioning of whether or not self-reference has blurred the lines between characters and players that truly inspires me and makes me wonder what increased self-reference could mean for future generations.
Noth’s writing is an analysis of self-reference in the media as the title suggests, and Duffy’s article regarding self-reference in video games brings up a similar topic. Both writers wonder at what the influence of self-reference has on users of technology. Noth explains what he is referring to by giving some examples such as, “the audience of a film is reminded of the fact that it is participating in the film while sitting in the film theatre. Peter Greenway’s actors that step out of their role as actors and mingle with the audience, or Alfred Hitchcock, who steps out of the role of a film producer to become an actor”. (Noth) In a way this is similar to what Duffy is suggesting regarding characters referencing the actors and computers during games. Most of the time actors are not intended to acknowledge that they are not part of the watchers reality because it ruins the illusion and interrupts the user’s immersion into the non-reality. However, this is becoming more and more common. The media will reference other media and technology mediums as well the audience, and psychologists have varying opinions on the cause of this and whether or not it should be concerning. In the end, it comes down to what the viewers want to see and because self-reference is becoming widely accepted it seems as though it would be difficult to reverse.
When referring to video games Noth doesn’t go into much detail but he does explain that “reference to the world is secondary in computer games. Games do not want to simulate real life. In contrast to other forms of play, the computer game offers still more possibilities for the creation of new worlds. Their virtual character is highly self-referential from the beginning on.” (Noth) Duffy’s statement that “In some sense, the 'reality' of a game always involves the player, since it would not be a game otherwise, brings up the question of whether or not video games bring us closer to integrating virtual realties into our everyday lives. She also says “In story-based games players make choices that have meaning and consequence in the fictional world of a game, so they are always part of the fiction”, which seems to line up well with Noth’s opinion. (Duffy)
Both authors agree that video games are unique among self-referential mediums because they are trying to pull the player into the game and not emulate reality. The players want to integrate themselves into a land of fantasy so making sure that the characters do not acknowledge their medium may not be as necessary is it is in film. Noth does not delve very deeply into the subject but rather recognizes that the topic deserves more research before it can be fully understand. Both of these writers are talking about the same phenomenon and both admit that it is a difficult subject to fully quantify.
While both authors refer to the same topic at least once there are many substantial differences between the two writings. Noth is delving into the research and broad aspects of self-reference in all forms of media while Duffy is solely focused on self-reference within video games. Noth refers to several types of self-reference including communicative self-reference described as pertaining to “pragmatics, the situation of text production and reception. The roles of the readers or the spectators and the enunciative roles of the authors, the producers, the actors or the players become the topic of the message”, and while this is the type of self-reference that Noth uses regarding video games Duffy does not refer to a specific type in her article. (Duffy) Instead, she uses broader strokes including a more philosophical approach to the topic of whether or not characters using self-reference in regards to the computer medium takes away from or possible increases the player’s enjoyment and involvement in the game.
Duffy’s article is in response to another article on the same subject so it would seem that it is self-referencing another form of media itself. Duffy states that “Conventional wisdom suggests that anything that draws attention to the technology of a medium is destructive for fiction. The characters in a movie, book, television show, or stage production must not 'know' they are in one, else they become self-aware of their own non-reality and everything falls apart.” (Duffy) This is an interesting idea and the premise behind why self-reference was not widely used in media until recently and is still avoided in many circumstances. Duffy references “the fourth wall” as the invisible barrier separating the viewer from the media production and argues that in video games it is not truly possible to break this wall because it is never really there since the player is always interacting with the game. Should this barrier between reality and media exist or will it eventually disintegrate as a symptom of natural technological evolution? Duffy takes a more opinion based approach to the subject while Noth’s writing reads more like a research-based examination of self-reference in today’s society.
The writing styles of the two authors also offer up several significant differences in style and type of writing. Beneath each section in Noth’s piece is an exhaustive list of those articles and studies referenced throughout the piece, giving a certain amount of credence to the points he is making while Duffy’s piece only references a single professional by the name of Matthew Weisse whose research is the basis for her opinion-based article. Noth’s article is more difficult to read and comprehend fully with an understanding the psychology terms used within the text while Duffy’s writing is more geared toward anyone that has average vocabulary knowledge. “Edu Feature: 'Press The Action Button, Snake: Self- Reference In Games” would probably appeal to a much wider audience than Noth’s much longer and more detailed piece outlining the various components and intricacies of how self-reference manifests itself in our post-modern age. I would not deign to say that one article is better or more well written than the other but they do seem geared towards their respective audiences.
These two articles both delve into the subject of self-reference in different types of media. Does it ruin the experience of playing a video game if the character tells you to press a specific key when he is in danger? Or do these blurred lines between reality and non-reality make for an entirely new experience for the players? Duffy seems to believe that it is not possible to break the “fourth wall” because the player is always connected to the character. Noth’s article goes deeper into the different types of self-reference and how they occur in each type of media, such as a producer getting onstage and acting during his own play etc.
The two articles are quite different in writing styles and even the breadth of the subject that they address, and neither directly or indirectly contradicts the views of the other. It is not possible to say whether one author is more correct than the other because they both raise valuable questions concerning why all forms of media seem to be using more self-reference in recent decades. Are we simply more aware? Or have we started to lose sight of actual reality in favor of a virtual world? (Noth) (Duffy)

Works Cited

Duffy, Jill. "Edu Feature: 'Press The Action Button, Snake: Self- Reference In Games"" (2008). Print.
Noth, Winfried. "Self-Reference in the Media." Print.

Cite this page
Choose cite format:
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Vancouver
  • Chicago
  • ASA
  • IEEE
  • AMA
WePapers. (2020, November, 07) Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples. Retrieved May 16, 2022, from
"Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples." WePapers, 07 Nov. 2020, Accessed 16 May 2022.
WePapers. 2020. Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples., viewed May 16 2022, <>
WePapers. Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples. [Internet]. November 2020. [Accessed May 16, 2022]. Available from:
"Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples." WePapers, Nov 07, 2020. Accessed May 16, 2022.
WePapers. 2020. "Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples." Free Essay Examples - Retrieved May 16, 2022. (
"Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples," Free Essay Examples -, 07-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 16-May-2022].
Self-Reference In The Post-Modern Era Essays Examples. Free Essay Examples - Published Nov 07, 2020. Accessed May 16, 2022.

Share with friends using:

Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.

If you need an original paper created exclusively for you, hire one of our brilliant writers!

Related Premium Essays
Contact us
Chat now