The Primer is an enormous enacted experience

In The Diamond Age, one of the most striking things about the Primer is that it communicates almost entirely via Enacted experience, just like most video games. It viscerally demonstrates the way that Enacted experiences can create intense personal connection to authored targets.

To experience the Primer is to pursue adventure, solve puzzles, tell stories, and so on—yet all those activities are shaped to produce specific emotional responses, to instill specific values, and to convey specific understandings. There’s an authored narrative, but it’s Nell’s actions which turn each page; it feels as though she’s causing the story (see Enacted experiences amplify the power of narrative).

Educational games try to teach through enacted experiences, and indeed, The Primer is fundamentally an educational game. But the Primer is much more ambitious in its use of enacted experiences than any existing educational game.


Stephenson, N. (2003). The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (Reprint edition). Spectra.

Last updated 2024-04-03.