The Mischief of Created Things
Links to Fileshttp://median.newmediacaucus.org/archives_in_progress/pre_2009_issues/issues.php?f=papers&time=2009_spring&page=oldenburg
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Citation of Original PublicationOldenburg, Aaron. (2009). The Mischief of Created Things. Media-N: Journal of the New Media Caucus. 5:1.
The purpose of this project is to create new images of West Africa, through an interactive environmental narrative informed by philosophies of game design. The content draws on my two years as a development worker in Mali. The imagery revolves around the hybridization of traditional Malian and Western culture, and overlaps between magic and technology, with an interface designed to allow the player to find the magic in the mundane. My process involved creating a three-dimensional environment in Flash that the player could explore non-linearly. Within the environment are characters with whom to converse, and conversation is based on a fluid navigation system similar to the environment's exterior exploration. Stories are based on my diary entries and letters home and were chosen for their personal, surprising, and multilayered nature. Rather than use traditional game design methods I chose to start with narrative and imagery first and create the game structure from them. During play the user discovers narratives that build on one another throughout the course of the experience. The player uses these to form a meaningful picture of the environment as a whole. The order selected to experience the narrative changes its interpretation, as reading an event over another influences the understanding of subsequent events. The surprising and non sequitur nature of the narrative makes the non-player characters as well as the environment itself seem more plausible.