Rebooting Electronic Literature Volume 3: Documenting Pre-Web Born Digital Media

Reader Traversal of M. D. Coverley's "Califia," by Ryan House

This Reader Traversal of M. D. Coverley's Califia by Ryan House, a postgraduate student, took place on Tuesday, March 14, 2016 in the Electronic Literature Lab at Washington State University Vancouver. He performed the work published on CD-ROM in 2000 by Eastgate Systems, Inc. using a Compaq PC running Windows 98.

Reader Traversal of M. D. Coverley's Califia, by Ryan House, Part 1

In this video clip, House begins the Traversal of M.D. Coverley’s Califia. The cover image appears on the screen and he clicks on it. He is greeted with a beach scene. Before continuing, he mentions that from reading Califia’s blurb on Eastgate’s webpage, he knows that Califia will be about California and treasure. House reads the words on the screen before clicking on “come ashore.” He notes that the next screen shows an object that looks like a Mayan calendar. He has the option to “know more information about Califia” or to “follow me.” House clicks on “know more information about Califia,” which shows acknowledgements, graphics, and credits. He goes back to the calendar and as he goes through “welcomes you,” and music begins to play in the background. The search for Califia begins, and the three characters, Augusta, Kaye, and Calvin, are introduced. House clicks on “follow me,” and the screen shows Calvin’s kitbag, which allows House to choose what to bring and what to leave behind. House comments that this is similar to a game. Next, House has the option to pick which character’s path to go on. He decides to follow the chronological order, going with Augusta’s path. The clip ends with House reading Augusta’s backstory.

Reader Traversal of M. D. Coverley's Califia, by Ryan House, Part 2

House continues the Traversal and reaches the docudramas of Calvin. He comments that the cursor has changed and that there are images of the Chinese Theater at night on the screen. House selects “paradise home,” which brings up a screen that talks about Violet Summerland living in a paradise home. Next, House clicks on “Nelly” to discover who the character is. After reading about Nelly’s character, Calvin’s Random Access Themes appears, and House clicks on “treasure map”. He comments that he clicked too many times causing the work to crash, but it also has given him a second chance to go through the work again.

Reader Traversal of M. D. Coverley's Califia, by Ryan House, Part 3

House boots up Califia on the Windows machine again. He describes what he sees and reads the passages aloud, commenting that the work contains game-like aspects, such as letting the user choose which gear to take on their treasure hunt. He clicks on an image identical to Califia's jewel case cover, revealing an ocean and footprints in the sand that introduce the wondrous land of California. He confesses he knows very little about Califia aside from what he read of the blurb in Eastgate's website. Opting to "come ashore," he begins exploring the piece in earnest. House deviates from the linear path by choosing a starting point from the contents menu, but follows the work chronologically from that point onward.

Reader Traversal of M. D. Coverley's Califia, by Ryan House, Part 4

In the last clip of House’s Traversal of Coverley’s Califia, House begins with Kaye’s path to the journey east. The next screen brings up Kaye’s sun, moon, and stars, and House has to find the hidden links. Next, he selects “star lore” and spins the sky. House goes back to the stars and reads through family mythology. The clip ends with music playing in the background as House reads about the mystery behind who started the Chinatown fire.

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