Thursday, April 3, 2014

Final Project Proposal

For my final project I would like to continue to expand upon my most recent revision (about the cake in portal and transform it into a creative project. It will be a game, but probably closer to an interactive reading/experiencing the content in my essay. I plan to use a program called “Twine” (, which, at the most basic level, allows you to create a text based choice game like Zork. There is also the ability to incorporate other types of media, but I’m not sure to what extent I plan to do that at this point. Either way, making a Twine requires little coding knowledge, and is very easy to set up a simple flowchart of choices.
As far as content goes, I want to condense my current thesis to the idea that unachievement is a way for video games to self-critique and become transcendental concepts. But more than that, I want the player to experience that. In addition to repurposing my paper to deliver the analysis and research I already have on this topic, I want to create a story where the player feels that conflict. I want to set it up so that the player is reading about my content, but realizes at a certain point in the game, that the given goal is not in his/her best interest and give them the opportunity to deviate from the “corrupt” path, much like in Portal.
To do this I want to frame the story as Aperture Science’s next experiment. The player will be getting a “history” on the company and their most recent experiment, Portal, through much of what I said in my paper, repurposed. The idea is that it will be some type of reading comprehension test and this is just a sample piece of text, not at first with significance in meaning. The “proctor” will introduce a point system, and increasingly promote the importance of points, which as you may have already guessed, end up being completely useless. Each chunk of my paper will be followed by a choice of some type, one going towards the proctor presenting more bias to points and Aperture Science buzzwords, very GLaDOS style, and the other sometimes presenting a footnote from the last subject to go through the test. I haven’t figured out how to technically explain that the last subject’s comments are there, but the footnotes (House of Leaves style) will reveal the idea of unachievement in pieces and the player will have to take that into account when going through the decision making process along the main story. The proctor will get more and more ridiculous as the player will become more and more informed by this other source, who will explain close readings of scenes in Portal and their meanings. This will let the player know, like in Portal, that they need to deviate from the directives. The path that deviates in the major fork in the game will lead the player to explanations of Portal as this self-aware, transcendental game.
It may seem a little scattered now, but as I start putting the pieces together, it will make sense. I think that I have a good understanding of a lot of facets surrounding this topic of unachievement, and the best way to present the information is to make it an experiential process. This game would be an interactive story with a narrative and my academic writings, as well as a third level of the last player’s commentary, a reference to both Portal and House of Leaves’s levels of narration.
I plan to use many of the same sources that were included in my revision (including Marcuse and concepts in an expanded/revised way), with the addition of all/any of:
  1. Narrative, Games, and Theory

Sources 1-5 are all specifically about video games, the reward systems they traditionally implement, and some about Portal specifically. Sources 6 and 7 are outside the realm of video games and talk about ideas revolving around symbols and inherent/assumed truths. I would also like to include some research on the neuroscience/cognitive science approach to reward systems. This I can incorporate from previous classes I have taken and the respective textbooks.


Jake Stambaugh said...

I think that this is a very interesting topic that you have a unique take on. Hopefully as you start adding the interactivity to an otherwise static paper, you will be able to see what parts of your paper invite interaction and which parts are not. I think in a medium like this it might be tempting to withhold your thesis until the player "discovers it," but since you are still presenting a paper in some form there should also be an introduction that at least begins to expose your thesis.

Adam said...

Excellent proposal. Go do it - that's the only advice I have at the moment, which is high praise.