All posts by robchain

With Those We Love Alive

‘With Those We Love Alive’ is a hypertext piece by Porpentine. I would describe it as a dream/nightmare-like interactive fiction as it relies on hyperlinks to move the story forward and is filled with descriptions that boggle the mind. It starts off innocently enough with some vague text that draws you into the piece followed by some multiple-choice options to “customize” you character—options like “what’s your eye color”, “what’s you month of birth”, etc.

The real fun with this piece starts when you’re introduced to the matriarch of the story, the “skull empress”, despite the very descriptive title of the empress you’re allowed to customize her too. You’re given a couple of choices whenever the option of picking out your “choice” for a descriptive feature is opened to the reader. This comes up again multiple times throughout the piece but most notably whenever you’re tasked with creating something. The reader is handpicked by the agents that serve the skull empress to come and live in the palace and craft weapon, armor, and artifacts for the skull empress.

As far as the story goes it’s a choose your own adventure that seems to be limited to how much variety the reader wishes to experience throughout their playthrough. I explored this piece from the beginning to the end once, and got a semi-satisfying conclusion by the end. My character seemed to do okay, until the meeting of an old acquaintance. There seemed to be an underlying romantic plot to the piece but to be honest with you it was all terribly vague and suggestive so I might’ve just imagined the entire romance part on my own.

Design-wise, the electronic literature is created through Twine, which I’ve had my own short run-in with myself but I dropped it after I couldn’t seem to string together more than 4-5 sections of my work. This, however, seems to work flawlessly. The design is simplistic, the backgrounds used are basic melting between various colors that work to set a general mood atmosphere, and the music—which changes alongside the backgrounds for emotional or thrilling scenes—does a serviceable job.

The piece does a good job at immersing the reader into a dream-like world that is made up with both the horror and marvel that dreams/nightmares can offer. The language used is often both eerie and rich, making the painting that the author is offering us frightening, while it keeps a certain amount of suspense throughout.

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‘With Those We Love Alive’ asks the reader in the start to participate with the piece in a rather refreshing way. The reader is asked to go and find a pen before they start the piece and as the character throughout the piece draws down markings on their body—or “sigils”—the reader is asked to imagine and create their own interpretations of said markings. The author even dedicated a webpage on Tumblr for people to post and share their own interpretations of the different markings that comes up in the story. For those who want to check out the various interpretations, you can click this link: http://porpentine.tumblr.com/tagged/glory-2-with-those-we-love-alive

Bodies

For my second electronic literature blog I chose to take a closer look at one of the pieces that Mia mentioned in our first orientation class regarding electronic literature. “My Body – A Wunderkammer” by Shelley Jackson.

Right of the bat I wondered if this piece had any relation to “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus” by Mary Shelley, but dismissed this as a coincident that happened to be just a little bit too on the nose to be considered a factor. It’s just happens to be a name that shows up twice, and I guess a reference to the human ‘body’ as well, which is arguably the star of the Frankenstein show, but still.

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However, the more and more I looked through ‘My Body’ it felt like there was supposed to be an ever so thin red line referring to Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein. It was only later while I read the ‘shoulder’ part of the piece and saw an explicit reference to the name “Frankenstein” that I realized there had at least been a modicum of interplay between the worlds. First and foremost, the first imagery we’re introduced to at the ‘main window’ of the piece. The body is, in my opinion, displayed to us in a way that points the reader towards ‘dissection’ and, or, ‘mutilation’ as we’re invited to examine and explore every individual part of the body.

She talks about how she thinks her body is “hulking”, “musclebound”, and describes how she thought of herself as “looming” over he friends—clear similarities with the monster of ‘Frankstein’.

Throughout the rest of the piece the author goes on to describe numerous parts of her body that she usually both scary and delightful. She talks about how she appreciates the aesthetic looks to certain body parts, but not her own. She talks about how she likes butts and hips on girls, but doesn’t want them for herself as she would rather have the straight and narrow look and feel of a boy’s body—wishing to be as “aerodynamic” as possible. (which made me chuckle as I’ve never thought of human body’s having the potential for being aerodynamic, but with the way she put it I understand exactly what she means.)

The majority of the text in the piece itself is made up of small stories where the author reminisces about certain parts of her childhood that relate to her body parts (and tattoos). These stories usually follow the same pattern as the rest of the story—there are bad/scary parts and there are good/delightful parts. The stories usually talk about how foreign the authors thinks of her own body, or either about how the public thinks her body is foreign, or how she is afraid of how other people perceive her changing body.

The story talks for the most part about scary and daunting puberty can be, and how children don’t consider each other too different until the arrival of the changes that come about as a result of puberty.

 

Inanimate Alice

We’ve now made the full transition into the electronic literature part of our lectures. For my first post regarding this topic I will be writing about the electronic literature piece that I did a presentation on last semester, Inanimate Alice.

Inanimate Alice is an electronic literature concerning the life and development of the main character of the piece named Alice. The first episode starts off in China, where 8 years-old Alice describes her life and living situation which includes her father working for some undisclosed company and unknown work activities—while Alice and her mother stay in the “base camp” waiting for his return.

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As I described in my presentation of Inanimate Alice last semester, I was immediately put on edge when I looked through this electronic literature—this is due to the imagery and audio that accompanies the piece.

The imagery is blurry and faulty like a flickering light in a tense scene in a horror movie, and the music sounds like its straight up inspired from the theme music in the video game Silent Hill. At first, I thought Inanimate Alice was a horror story, because of its delivery and pacing—but I realized that it is only appropriate to lump Inanimate Alice in with the horror genre if one views the entirety of the several episodes from an overarching perspective. Episode One (and Episode Four to some degree as well) is only horror so far as the fact that Alice is a small child and we, the viewers, are asked to view everything from her eyes and position as a child with almost no say as to what happens to her.

Some of the pieces in the Inanimate Alice series is quite eerie in its presentation and atmosphere. This is most likely to emphasize the fear surrounding Alice’s lack of control of her own childhood and future.

The electronic literature itself is built like a “video game” straight from a webpage in the 90’s. The majority of the transitioning pages contain some sort of text that pushes the plot forward while the reader is given the option to click either an arrow (which functions and the progression key) or, in some cases, the reader is presented with one or multiple images to click. This offers, at minimum, some variety to your standard interactive fiction, and at best helps to set the mood of the piece with its multitude of images that directly relate back to the story. More often than not, the reader is allowed to play around with these “multiple choice” options—as they often work as puzzles that need to be solved before the story can progress. Most of the time these “puzzles” aren’t too demanding, but at the very least they are mendatory to push the plot forward.

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All in all, Inanimate Alice is a series of 7 episodes of following the nomadic life of Alice and learning what becomes of her from her highy unusual adolescence—and one of my favorite pieces of electronic literature from last semester.

Planetside 2

These last few weeks we’ve had a good couple of blogs cocerning videos games, which is completely in line with the our class schedule, but soon we will be moving into something that I’ve been looking forward to tackling—electronic literature. But before we get to that however, I will be doing at least a last blog on video games. This week I will be talking about the game that has officially taken up the most time on my Steam account; Planetside 2.

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Planetside 2 is somewhat unique in its approach. It breaks the traditional mold of a FPS (First Person Shooter) by dividing the teams in three instead of the classic setup of two teams facing off against each other.

A crucial part of the game is choice. Choice plays a great part in Planetside 2, arguably a greater role than in most FPS games. Technically, there is no wrong way to play Planetside 2, although one could say that there are multiple ways of playing the game the most efficiently—and efficiency usually comes with the teamwork and participation of group activities within the game. A unit of players, or a battalion of players, or even a lone player can fulfill different roles to maximize their team’s capabilities.

What I mean by focusing on ‘efficiency’ is that that every player spawns on the server of their choice and is immediately presented with the possibility to do whatever they want to engage in the coming battle depending on their choice of class, vehicle, approach, and synchronized effort.

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The classes (particularly designated roles for the players to choose between) is open to anyone, meaning that if someone wants to play from afar then there are several ways to do that—for instance there’s the infiltrator, the engineer, and the heavy assault.

  • Infiltrators function as snipers and use their rifles to shooter enemy players with great accuracy from a great distance.
  • Engineers can craft minefields, repair vehicles and place auto-turrets to create a safe defensive area in the rear of the battlefield.
  • Heavy assault is the only class that can use handheld cannons to take out all of the different group and air vehicles.

However, if someone wants to be the offensive forces that pushes in the front of the battle then one can choose several roles to fulfill that job, one can even choose an offensive role and based on your own playstyle one can tailor the class to fulfill the player’s personal needs—for instance, there’s the infiltrators, engineers, and heavy assault. See what I did there? The exact same classes can fulfill opposite roles in played correctly.

  • Infiltrators are the only ones who can use limited invisibility to infiltrate the enemy bases and destroy the defensive mechanisms from the inside.
  • Engineers can craft minefields, repair vehicles and place auto-turrets to create a no-go zone for the enemy forces in the front unless they want to be used as target practice dummies.
  • Heavy assault is the only class that can activate a limited defensive shield that drastically reduces the power and damage of the enemy projectiles.

Besides the classes that I’ve already mentioned I left out Light Assault, Combat Medic, and MAX—which all offer their own unique style of custimizable gameplay as the others. Depending on how you would like to engage the endless battlegrounds that Planetside 2 offers, you can change your playstyle to accommodate the situations.

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One of the biggest eye-catching features regarding Planetside 2 however, must be the number of players engaging in the game at the same time. The number of players per map is 1200 players. And another one of the most eye-catching features is the delegation of teams per map, which is three. So, you have three different groups split into three teams fighting for the dominion of the map. The different factions are; Terran Republic (red), New Conglomerate (blue), and Vanu Sovereignty (purple). In fairness, this recipe offers the potential for chaos. There is no mandatory teamwork, everyone can move around the map to exactly where they want, and there is no win-condition except for the complete control of the map by a single faction—meaning that battles can last for several hours, while in its earlier stages the battles could last for days.

These features, as I put them, are great mechanics that enhance the gaming experience of Planetside 2, but there are those who argue that instead of lending to the game they have the reverse effect and diminish the participation. The freedom to do whatever you want can impact the overall achievements of your team and offers your opponents to log into the server, take up a spot on your four-hundred-man team and sabotage your victories. Another complaint of the game is the sheer potential for chaos with such a large number of players that participates. Sometimes this impacts the overall understanding of the situation at hand in-game, while sometimes the number of players that participates results in player’s computers to have problems keeping up.

Personally, I have a computer that is able to keep up just enough to where my gaming experience is not reduced, so I am unable to directly comment on that problem myself. But another point in its defense is the number of hours I’ve put into this game, which is five hundred and five hours—which makes Planetside my number one most played game on Steam.

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I’m leaving the link to one of the trailers of the game for anyone who’s interested, the trailer really delivers the massive scope of the battles that take place in the game:

The Fallout Series

It’s Easter, you nerds! You know what that means. No more work! Jkjk, there’s plenty of work to be done in the coming week, I just wish we didn’t.

For this week I’ll be talking about a game that I was recently reminded of: Fallout 4, and Fallout: New Vegas. I regard both of these two games to be great at what they do: let the player take part in a post-apocalyptic world where the rules and laws of society are thrown out the window and so is your own sense of personal safety.

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Out of the two games I played Fallout: New Vegas first, to be more precise, I played Fallout: New Vegas when I was supposed to be studying for my ‘exphil’ exam the first semester of my time here at the University of Bergen. But alas, I was playing video games instead. (I passed the exam(s) just fine, don’t worry) Fallout: New Vegas was a dozy though, it was pretty old by anyone’s standard around the time I started playing it, but at the time it was released in 2010 it was considered a great release by the players.

The game starts with the players in the shoes of the playable character named ‘the courier’. The story only tells you the bare minimum of what you need to know to begin playing. You’re a courier and your package was intercepted and stolen by Benny (voiced by Matthew Perry!) who promptly tells you “it’s just business” before he shoots you in the head and leaves you in your already dug out grave in the Mojave Desert of ‘New Vegas’. What happens next is that you’re recovering from your head wound in a run-down medical center, with amnesia. From that point on, more or less, you’re able to decide for yourself what to do in this unfamiliar place.

The game itself starts and runs somewhat similar to the game I discusses in my previous blog, Dark Souls. The character’s past isn’t crucial to the plot going forward, what matters is what choices you make throughout the game following you picking up the remote controller.

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Fallout 4, however, is filled with references and plot twists depending on your past—a stark contradiction to its predecessor. Fallout 4 starts with your creating your character, witnessing a nuclear attack in American soil, entering the bomb shelter successfully, and you entering into your ‘cryo sleep’. Several plot twists and plot lines are revealed later in the story to have a deep impact because of the past. Fallout: New Vegas shows us how to make a traditional role-playing game where the character is you and you make the decisions—while Fallout 4 is more of a game that follows a strict storyline, with the occasional moment where you can make a slight impact on the overall story.

Despite this ‘huge’ difference in the two games of the same series, the game mechanicals and playstyle is very similar. With the addition of Fallout 3, all of these three games follow a somewhat cookie-cutter format of how the game is played. They’re all played in a third-person perspective, the game focuses on exploring the world around you to uncover the land and lore, siding with different factions tied together by war and differing ideologies, and the confrontation with several philosophical and ethical questions—which is a staple of the series by now.

With Easter just starting, perhaps it is the perfect time to do another dissection of these very different, yet very alike games. Happy Easter everyone. 🙂

 

Dark Souls and it’s lore design

After hearing Elias’ presentation on Dark Souls, there are two parts that I consider crucial to the overall identity of the game that I want to touch upon. The post-apocalyptic scenario of the world—a key component of the core of the world of Dark Souls—and the ambiguity of the prophecy concerning the player. To do this however, I need to do a quick summary of the hidden plot of the Dark Souls, the plot that mostly takes place in the past. The character you play is in this weird position of being an inconsequential character to the world while at the same time he is the most important individual to the overarching plot of the game. Confused yet? Let’s go deeper.

There exists a prophecy in the world of Dark Souls that says that one day a ‘Hollow’ will “rekindle” the flame. (Hollows are humans who are slowly degenerating into a state of being Undead, essentially humans who are without hope or drive) This is the very same flame that Lord Gwyn chose to sacrifice himself to so many years ago in a desperate attempt to rekindle it as it was slowly fading away. The “flame”, essentially, represents life, humanity, and hope.

The character that you play in Dark Souls—an unnamed human—is supposed to represent the individual player that picks up the remote control. Making the character an unnamed human, with no ties to the past or future, make it the perfect avatar for the player. (Sort of how Link in the Legend of Zelda doesn’t have a voice, but instead is only given a different array of battle cries—this makes the character incredibly viable for any and all players to identify with.) Essentially, the character is you, me, anyone who has ever picked up the game, and anyone who will ever pick up the game in the future. Because that is the brilliance of the underlying plot of the game;  the light will keep fading regardless of how many people ultimately chose to sacrifice themselves for humanity. The “chosen one” really only refers to whoever eventually manages to make it through the entire journey of the game. Once that player is done and has successfully completed the game, the flame will start to fade again, an another will have to serve as the next sacrifice. The prophecy itself is self-fulfilling—which is a brilliant design on the game developers part.

Let’s talk about the post-apocalyptic state of the world of Dark Souls. This component to the game’s story is executed masterfully. There is no real narration in the game, anyone can play through the story without picking up on basically any of the lore of the world. As Elias said in his presentation of the game on Thursday, barely anyone understand the story on their first playthrough of the game. That’s because the story and lore is intentionally vague and shrouded. One of the ways of learning the history is to read the description of various items and objects found and uncovered throughout the world. These usually describe events and characterize the previous owners.

But the most interesting part of the game is the state of decay that it is already in by the time you arrive on the scene. The world is slowly dying around you, but just as evident as the corrosion of the world is to the player, so is the marvel of the former glory of the world. You’re able to travel through enormous castles, vast landscapes, and awe-inspiring dungeons. This world feels like it at one point in time was living and breathing. So, what then caused its demise? This intriguing conundrum is what drives the lore-enthusiasts on the Dark Souls community to seek more and more knowledge and pieces of information out of the game.

This design choice is part of what inspired me in my work this last semester in Mia’s class when I worked on developing ‘the Lord of Light’, my piece of interactive literature for that subject. My goal was to create a work in which the story of the world was unraveled piece by piece through documents and parchments written down by historians throughout history. Once the reader had gathered enough history I wanted to prompt the reader to make a executive decision on a crucial choice that would determine the fate of the characters involved in the piece. Sadly, my ambitions for the project outweighed my competence and time available. However, I do plan on continuing the ‘Lord of Light’ piece and I hope that I will be able to complete it in its intended design.

For anyone interested, here’s a link to the actual work:
https://writer.inklestudios.com/stories/jb86

 

The Long Dark

The shift from digital art to video games gives me the perfect opportunity to write about a game that I have become a huge fan of—and a video game category that I normally would not say that I am a fan of—the survial game, the Long Dark.

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The Long Dark was released into its beta stage the 22nd of September in 2014—I didn’t hear about it until at least 2016. The game is created by Hinterland Studios and is a ‘survival game’. I’ve poured about 300 hours into this game and loved every second of it. The premise is pretty straight forward; you’re the only surviving passenger from the emergency crash-landing of an airplane travelling across the wilderness of northern Canada. The game throws you into a highly hostile territory that would like nothing else than to see you perish. The game is highly focused on surviving, this is key as basically every mechanic of the game is either out to kill you or help you postpone that promise of eventual annihilation that waits around every corner.

Right of the bat you need to get your priorities straight and adept to your surroundings. First thing’s first; you’re injured from the plane crash, and as such you need to find some bandage, painkillers, and antiseptic to clean and dress your wounds. If you can’t find these things in your surrounding area you can always look for natural remedies provided from nature, such as ‘usnea’ aka ‘old man’s beard’, or ‘rose hip’, or ‘reishi mushroom’—these all function as medicine harvested from nature.

You’re clothes are torn and ragged from the plane crash making your susceptible to the cold and the cutting wind of the harsh and barren land. You’re afforded a few options here, scour the land for clothes left behind by others, tear up already destroyed clothes and repurpose the scraps of the cloth that this yields you, or create new articles of clothes from the pelt and fur or animals.

You’re both famished and parched—you need to find food and water to sate your hunger and appease your thirst. The issue of thirst might seem benign at first—you’re constantly surrounded by heavy snow—but there’s the issue of successfully lighting a fire to melt the snow to make it drinkable. You might also think that the material required to start a fire is readily available to you. They’re not. There’s the issue of finding small sticks to serve as your tinder, and either logs of wood or broken wooden furtiture to serve as the body for the fire. Additionally, you will either need the limited number of matches to light a fire—and those are usually hard to come by—or you can be exceedingly lucky and find a magnifying glass, but lo-and-behold, you need calm weather and clear sky for that one to work (and it only works in the outdoors).

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And then there’s the whole food poisoning part of the game. You might search far and wide to only find a single can of dog food stocked away in an abandoned cabin—only to realize once you open it that it’s past its expiration date. Way past it. But who can afford to be picky in the final days of armageddon? There are some other options available to you however. The game provides you with a few options for hunting the wildlife of Canada, there’s plenty of both rabbits, and deer to eat—both neither one is just going to keel over and present themselves to you, you need to hunt them on top of everything else going on. Rabbits can be lured into simplistic spring traps laid down by you once you’ve gone through the lengthy process of crafting them, or you can hunt them with either stones (used to stun them for long enough for you to grab ahold of them), bow and arrow, or rifle and bullets—the two latter options requiring either immense patience to search for and finally find, and the other one immense patience to craft from scratch. (Also, there’s somewhat of a learning curve to be able to handle the various devices at your disposal.)

I’ve talked about some of the wildlife present in the game, but did I forget to mention the carnivorous wildlife that’s out to get you? Both wolves and bears would love to dine on you if presented the chance. Wolves usually go in packs while the bears enjoy their solitude, the harder the difficulty you choose to play on the farther away both agents will detect your smell and start to chase you—you’ve got some ways of combating these predators however. I just mentioned both the bow and arrow, and the rifle and bullets a paragraph ago, but you can choose other ways of proceeding. The pacifist approach would be to just turn around and walk the other way should you either spot or suspect the presence of any animals. Tips to alert you would be either the howls of wolves, the remains of a fresh deer carcass (usually surrounded by crows circling overhead), the heavy breathing of bears, or fresh tracks in the snow made from either party. Sometimes you can successfully scare off either one, the wolves can be scared by the lighting of torches, flares, or rocks thrown by the player—while the bear will usually only run if it’s shot by the signal gun.

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Up until now I’ve mostly talked about the survival aspect of the Long Dark, but I would like to touch on a part of this game that I previously have never truly been able to appreciate in any other games before it—the soothing atmosphere. The Long Dark is filled with the ambient sounds that one would expect from today’s games, but there is something about the atmosphere and aura present in this game which strikes me as unique. Apart from the truly terrifying moments of panic when presented with the potential permanent death (which is the only death presented in the game) by either wolf, bear, disease, starvation, or hypothermia—the game offers numerous genuine moments of contemplation and reflection. Once you’re out of the immediate dangers of either one of the aforementioned perils you’re presented with the question of ‘what now?’ Do I look for new food sources, do I take some time out of my schedule to fortify my temporary home (or headquarter), do I put in the time and energy to craft additional tools, do I look for medicine in case of future mistakes or blunders, or do I leave the comfort of my home and head out to seek my fortune in a differ part of the land? With the worry of perma-death hanging over your head at all times, the time and energy that you put into your every action becomes that much more serious and consequential. Leaving your home could result in you being ambushed by a bear, while staying in one spot will eventually drain all of the resources in the immediate area—either chose comes with its potential rewards and consequences.

The game masterfully pulls out the survival instincts you didn’t necessarily know you had in you and makes you feel like you’re truly fighting to survive with every day that goes by. Every day you’re presented with the toll of being alive and what it means to provide enough resources for your body to function and develop.

The Long Dark, to me, is a game of self-realization—regardless of how cheesy that might sound. It successfully rekindled a long forgotten sense of survival instinct within me—and I can only hope that there are other people out there who experienced that same sensation that I did while playing the Long Dark.

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Selfies

This week there was some conflict in the scheduling for our classes. Thursday, Mia was leaving for Oslo to present her experience as a Fulbright Scholar in the Department of Digital Culture at the University of Bergen.

For the next week we will have Tuesday off, which gives us a great opportunity to do browse and search the numerous tools that Mia have shared with us, such as; https://www.net-art.org/, http://rhizome.org/about/, and http://www.adaweb.com/context/stir-fry/.

Personally, I am really stoked for Mia’s chance at presenting her #SelfieUnselfie installation project, I think that she is on to a great idea and I think it will go over well. But I am not so stoked for the same reason that most people in my generation probably would be. Although I am very accustomed to smartphone apps, I do have my own grievances with apps like Instagram, Twitter, and *. I’ve never been a fan of selfies or the culture surrounding it. Fairly often are selfies—like Mia pointed out in class—a distortion of reality.

Selfies serve as the next level to Facebook statuses—they serve to portray a certain contained message, or cypher, to the surrounding world and are framed in a particular way to lead the reader/viewer to arrive at a predestined goal. Someone in class pointed out how the only selfies they take are “ironic” or “sarcastic” selfies, and Snapchat happens to have a very serviceable application for exactly this—as you are encouraged to forward selfies to friends and close ones. (Except for in the case where you can publish your snaps to the public, but we’re not talking about that right now, shush)

Twitter on the other hand is an app I just never got into. And it’s a shame too since a great deal of participation in this class is directed towards Twitter. But my grievance with Twitter is pretty similar to my points above. There isn’t much diversity in the usage of twitter, than just to forward your—is 250 characters the limit?—character limited message, be it self-promotion in a professional way, promotion of your personal business, or simply just the act of spreading messages by a digital form of word of mouth.

In summary of my points above, it is really hard to be part of these things when you’re vehemently against them. Which poses several questions for one self and others.

Digital Art and Net-Art

This week we took a close look at “Sky Magic Live at Mt. Fuji: Drone Ballet Show” and “Lisa park’s Eunoia II” and brought the discussion of the pieces to our twitter accounts—which I think is progressing nicely, but I agree with Mia that it probably takes a while to get everyone situated and willing to participate. I personally have never been involved with Twitter before I started doing my digital culture subjects, so I can relate to that feeling of hesitation.

As far as Net-Art goes, I followed Mia’s advice of starting with a piece by choosing a page number that corresponds with my month of birth and then scroll down to the piece that correlates with my day of birth—so I choose the third page for March and the ninth piece scrolling downwards. What I landed on was “Asco-o”. (http://www.o-o.lt/asco-o/) Mt first impression of the website was that someone posted the wrong link and sent me on my way to a chaotic website form the early 90’s, but it was actually the correct link. Next, I wondered how I—or anyone for that matter—would go about explaining this net-art.

The design is cryptic, at best. The base color used for the entire background is a heavy green, which looks like it’s imported straight from a malfunctioning computer screen from some 80’s action movie. Although I am extremely puzzled by the piece in its entirety, I am intrigued as well—because if there in fact is a message hidden in here, it’s hidden extremely well. The screen is mostly made up of numbers and symbols which are used to create larger pictures, pictures in which the meaning is completely lost on me. One moment it’s a straight quote from some inspirational speech of the past, then it’s a playlist from some album I didn’t catch the name of, and then it goes on to change into the Pokemon ‘Sandslash’—except it’s body is completely made up of symbols. And mixed into this whole thing is the fact that the entire screen completely changes about every four seconds and shows you a new and entirely different screen with it.

Like I said earlier, if there is a distinct message to this piece then went completely over my head.

My own neat little box

This week we were lucky enough to be guests to the lecture of Leonardo Flores who showed us a multitude of different ways that electronic literature has evolved over the years—and the subsequent categories of generations that we can place the different pieces of work within. The lecture prompted me to think a bit outside the preconceived box that I’ve personally put electronic literature within. For our exam last semester, I created a piece of electronic literature in Inklewriter (which is still in its beta form) and, at the time and admittedly up until this lecture with Leonardo Flores, I kept my idea of electronic literature in a neat little box of my own.

This unfortunately resulted in me thinking and viewing electronic literature in a single way, which upon further evaluation goes against a large picture of what this subject is all about—the fact that electronic literature has the extremely unique opportunity of being a piece of literature that transcends traditional means of absorption. I feel bad for catching myself in the act of limiting my own view of exactly what electronic literature is supposed to be, and realizing that I narrowed its definition down to a certain idea or being.

That’s why I’m even more excited now to try and figure out a way to make a piece of electronic literature this time around that is the opposite of what I created the past semester. I’ll try to steer as far away as I can from a “traditional” hypertext interactive fiction and make something that stands as far away from that category as possible—I’m thinking of maybe creating a generative poem, or a piece of digital art similar to ‘Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky’  ( http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/ezzat__like_stars_in_a_clear_night_sky/index.html ) which happened to be one of my favorite electronic literature pieces last semester.

Going forward in our lectures, I’m looking forward to what we will be discussing and considering in the subjects of ‘digital art’ and ‘video games’—and to a certain degree I am very curious to see how many people in our class is starting to make plans for creating a piece of video game for their exam. We only had one person in our class last semester who wanted to try out for making a video game and he happened to have a very interesting concept for what he imagined that he could create.

I would love to be able to make a website that encourages the user/reader to explore and choose their own path through the piece to uncover the “secrets” within it. On second thought, that’s vaguely similar to what I created in Inklewriter—at least on the face of it. Although the way I would go about creating this one would stand out from my previous work. Maybe that’s it though, what if I made two different mediums that both built on the idea of having the reader explore and discover bits and pieces of story that they eventually could bring together to form the bigger picture of the overarching story. This is starting to look like something. I could even present both of the individual works next to each other, side by side, as an example of how one idea could be worked out and presented on two completely different ways.

I will have to ask Mia for some guidance on this however. There hapens to be a lot of different ideas and suggestions on how to move forward with this that I could possibly gather from the different volumes of electronic literature collections—I think I’ll be using both ‘Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky’ and ‘Queerskins’ ( http://www.queerskins.com/ ) as my base for how I want this piece to look and function. Also, shoutout to ‘Queerskins’ for those who haven’t read it yet. The way it deals with its presentation and layout is amazing.