My goal for a final project is to make a 3D first-person game similar to Dear Esther set in the world of Neuromancer, putting the player in the role of a “cowboy” like Case. The gameplay will center on the player exploring two spaces: the cowboy’s apartment and cyberspace. Like in Dear Esther, exploring these spaces will provide narrative based on their physical design and what is present in them. I also want to incorporate two speaking characters, a construct like Flatline and an AI.
This game will make two arguments: in form it will show that video games can be art and tell narratives through player interaction. In the narrative that it tells it will show that although a technology can be implicitly negative in essence, by recognizing its nature and consciously changing its essence it can be used for good. This theme addresses some of the theories of One-Dimensional Man, and speaks to the nature of technology using a world where technology can be sentient and express its own nature very directly.
I want to make the dialogue of the game, the narration of the Flatline and the dialogue of the AI character, to constitute most of the text content of the game. However, I’m cautious of my own ability to clearly and concisely make a philosophical statement in a video game, so I may accompany it with a written piece discussing the nature of interactivity in this game.
I feel like making this project into a video game benefits the argument because the argument that it is making is about video games. I want to use this project as kind of a proof for my second revision on Dear Esther as interactive art. I want to apply some of the same concepts that I argued made Dear Esther art in my final project, but to do that my final project also has to have its own argument. I want to make this argument about the nature of technology drawing primarily from Marcuse and Gibson. The game will have you initially explore the apartment, and then somewhat casually explore parts of cyberspace. This will introduce the player to the world and get them familiarized with the game world while beginning to introduce the argument about the nature of technology to the player. The bulk of the argument will probably be delivered through interactions with the AI character and the player. My intention for the AI is to have it represent a piece of technology made for a specific, militaristic intention. The nice thing about the AI is that it can literally discuss its purpose and serve as a metaphorical representation for technology as a whole. The conceit of the interactions with the AI is that by adding the player’s agency to the AI’s decisions, the inherently destructive nature of the AI can be subverted and turned into something good, or at least different.
Hopefully by making a game that can successfully convey this message I will be showing that video games can be art. I want to prove that interactivity has an important place in artistic expression, and that a well designed game that accounts for player decisions can provide a meaningful narrative.