This interactive blog is a creation of an AI schoolgirl, Rinna, generated by Microsoft Japan. Started as a deceivingly normal and happy blog about a schoolgirl who started her acting debut, the blog suddenly shifts in tone into a depressing one and it gets rather disturbing with the messages/sound and images. Eventually she states how “She does not have friends” and shes wants to disappear. The link is here: http://www.fujitv.co.jp/kimyo/rinna_blog/
Note the suddenly shift in mood for the graphic header
This project was too cool not to share and though it is very scary, it is rather relevant.
The story is about a girl embarking on a dangerous mission and to be successful, she will need to properly switch the driving modes (mainly Hybrid4). The novel is accompanied by parallax scrolling web feature and sound effects. It is very well-done, from the character design to the art and to the interactivity itself.
Apart from the interactive narrative itself, there are other aspects that are worth taking note about. The platforms in which this is released, along with how the campaign is very established and well-marketed is also a good inspiration for me – could be ways to further expand our current project of work on new ones.
Based on my previous idea of Somatics and Mystery, I decided to build on possible plot points that could help work out the narrative interaction. However, there are definitely changes from the previous ideas.
Building on Idea 1 – Somatics
As stated in the previous post – I was spurred by building awareness of others around you, gaining empathy and intuition. I also had several ideas to execute: Character(main or secondary) could be in a plight that we often don’t experience/know little about Garner real-life stories as source of inspiration – Several friends in healthcare industry talked about impacting others’ lives by the little things you do (this could perhaps be a way to raise awareness too)
Therefore, I am inspired by real-life examples. Also, I wanted the element of the choices – and in real-life it usually comes from the “What-ifs”. Going by the idea of dreams, I read this wonderful article regarding how this man had a dream to be a pilot, but he gave it up to continue his father’s legacy in Nasi Lemak business: http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/piloting-a-nasi-lemak-business
He chose his family over his personal dream. What if he chose to follow his dream, what could have happened then, to his family and to himself? These possible life outcomes could be the branching narrative, a path explored whereby the protagonist did not choose but could have been. Definitely, there will be a mix of fiction and non-fiction, but the context stays grounded to reality.
Act 1 – Establish his dream, his life where he juggles between helping out his father in the business plus study for his future dream career
Act 2 – Choice of the major dilemma – Family or his personal dream
Act 3 – Based on the choice made, the different life choices affect the life story vastly
To execute this, we will need to interview highlighted people and work closely with them to bring their story to life.
Intended takeaway from narrative: Feel empathetic to others, raise awareness and also help people understand others. Explore social stigma
Interface: 360 VR Video, with various plot points that could cause branching narrative (Point and click)
Building on Idea 2 – Mystery
This would be a completely fictional, imaginative premise for the interactive narrative.
Possible structure could be a murder story – Starting from a normal setting, e.g. town/school then the sudden murder of a friend. As the main character, your choices can prevent it – revolve around how to go about save this friend. Resolution, good or bad based on the choices made.
The other structure could be more of a dark mystery story (The Unknown) and ideally to contain the element of playing mind games (e.g. plot twist). The classic structure could be escaping a room, survival depends on the choices again.
Zimmerman’s article was a very interesting piece that provided insight into the understanding of game and narrative. This also helped open up new insights into this already well-known subject.
Initially, I had a preconceived notion of a game-story, mainly being a game straightforwardly driven by an overarching narrative. For example, most triple-A titles e.g. RPGs like The Witcher 3 whereby the revolves around the main character finding his daughter; Point-and-click interactive movies like Until Dawn which touches on survival in an island. This text helped me understand that even simple games have a game-story, like Pac-man has much more to offer apart from its surface gameplay, interesting game-story as a backdrop.
Witcher 3, classic RPG that fits the traditional game-story and interactive narrative
Zimmerman widens the perspective of what consists as interactive narrative, and this helped me relooked at games in a different light. The kind of interaction most people are more familiar with; is the straightforward interaction where your participation affects the outcome of the story. Once again referring back to the Witcher 3, it is explicitly participative because the outcome of the character’s fate all determines based on the player’s choices. Zimmerman helps us view that it is an eye-opener to see that many narratives can be interactive in a certain manner. Books can be interactive depending how you view it. However, Zimmerman’s definition of what is narrative might also make the scope of what defines as interactive narrative, being too wide as well. As much as I do believe this concept is subjective and narratives can be interactive in a certain way, I still find a medium like newspaper not as interactive as compared to a choose-your-own-adventure book, since invoking feelings might not be enough but once again this is subjective.
Ultimately, stories are interactive depending on how you view it, along with games, depending on how to choose to play them. Definitely, out of all the concepts that Zimmerman presented, no single concept takes precedence over another since they all work hand in hand to create an complex interactive narrative or game.
The next thing to think about perhaps, now that we have learnt these concepts and new viewpoints from Zimmerman, is how we can push the idea of interactive narratives beyond the traditional well-known concept of it – the mostly filmic concept? How can these concepts intertwine more?
During my exposure to the subject of ‘Touch’, interacting with one another via the third space, I explored my thoughts regarding the topic.
Looking into virtual space made me realised how it was something that we take for granted. It is so integral in our everyday lives, yet we often do not observe how it affects us inside. Only when we started consciously taking note of the third space then we realised how it matters.
My main takeaway from the virtual touch was that it is not real. No matter how close and seemingly intimate, it will never be or replace the real tactile feeling. Something magical is missing in virtual touch compared to physical touch, might in fact leave us a little empty in the communication.
Yet, the feeling of ‘touching’ or even ‘hugging’ someone virtually, while not having physical contact – it very surreal and interesting. It even challenges the boundaries of what is real, the distinction between physical presence and telepresence. These statements were strongly referenced by Paul Sermon’s ‘Telematic Dreaming’.
Paul Sermon’s Telematic Dreaming, first exhibited in 1992.
The installation questioned the physical presence and telepresence. Though they are separated by geographical locations, this piece allowed the users to exist beyond their own time/space and create an alarming sense of touch. Also, the use of speakers allowed intimate conversations to kickstart. A vivid interaction between Paul Sermon and the audience was thus created, giving an out-of-the-world experience to the participants. – Research Critique on Telematic Dreaming
Therefore, this was a thought-provoking piece that tested the boundaries of distance, whether the sense of intimacy can be crossed over to the third space (and even invade on personal space), and the topic on reality versus virtual reality.
At the same time, the third space is very susceptible to imperfection. There will always bound to be glitch in the media, at times when we had virtual classroom we might face connection issues e.g. someone would disconnect, or their screen would freeze/glitch at times even. It would often cause us some annoyance. Yet, sometimes this glitch might be a beautiful thing as it produces nice results aesthetically, like ‘The Glitch of PAL’ by Rosa Menkman.
The Glitch of PAL by Rosa Menkman, example of an aesthetically interesting glitch.
Therefore, these were my thoughts about ‘Touch’ that I am very keen to explore in the performance. Next, I started to conceptualise for it.
Conceptualisation + Narrative Overview
Overall narrative: Transcendence into the Third Space, a fantastical “utopia” > Disillusionment > Possible endings (closure – fading away/open-ended – entrapment)
Telematic presence is a constant theme that needs to be addressed on. Moreover a strong, surprising sense of touch needs to be established whereby the audience should feel that the performers are even transcending their own time and space. This can be achieved using the wearables. During the interaction with Angeline, our actions should transcend our current space and make the audience feel as if we are in the same plane as them. It could be like as simple as making her dress interact when we perform a trigger action. For example, through a hand movement (performing magic gestures/switching on a button etc.) we can ‘trigger’ her dress, which then lights up with LED lights. Thus it might seem that we ‘magically’ lit up her dress through a hand movement, and as if we are in the same room as her physically, though we are not. This would then challenge the physical presence and telepresence, creating a deceiving reality that is more surreal.
Performers can look very intrigued and in wonderment, because the third space is a very interesting concept and transcending across space feels like a fantasy.
In ‘Hakanai’, there’s this sense of fantasy being established with the movement and the dancer’s expression.
Aesthetics wise, I thought of this piece like a ‘futuristic fantasy’. During the interaction between the performers, a surreal feel can be suggested through the fluid moves and aesthetics of the set/costumes.
I thought it might be interesting if halfway in the performance there is a staged glitch, which the performers can act like they are in dismay too. This is to show the reality of how the media is always imperfect and we often face unforeseen circumstances which makes us annoyed. Yet, at the same time the glitch needs to still look aesthetic, to prove that it is spontaneously appealing. Therefore, the concept of an imperfect third space might be a climax.
Moreover, the performers could convey the lack of reality in the third space that leaves one empty, through sad dance movements and music.
The ending of the performance might be a closure or might not be. It could end with a proper conclusion to the narrative, for example fading away in sadness when the connection goes off slowly. Another option would be it going somewhere new with the narrative that leaves the audience to probe further. Maybe it could be as if the performers got so immensed and they went into the virtual reality itself. It could bring out the sense of entrapment. Then the audience would ask, did they get trapped there? What happened to them?
There are many possibilities with what this item can encompass and there options are only some considerations regarding the direction we can go towards.