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Thermophiles in Love

    
Thermophiles in Love


     When I learned that we were participating in the #NetProv Thermophiles in Love as part of our Elit group project, I was initially drawn to the idea and excited to participate. As part of a New Media Studies class, I got the chance to participate in my first #NetProv last spring. You can read my reflection on that experience here.

     The premise for Thermophiles in Love is a 5-gender thermophile dating site that utilizes matchmakers, or Mesos, to "hook up" sets of four thermophiles so that they can form a quadruple. Created by Samara Hayley Steele, Cathy Podeszwa, Rob Wittig, and Mark Marino, the game seeks to serve as a "creative exploration of contemporary gender fluidity viewed through a microscopic collaborative narrative".


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=JzLBI7JEka8
     After reading the "How to Play" section of the site and watching the intro video, my first goal as a  participant was to get a gender assignment so that I could set up a profile. I was assigned to be a "Fac":

http://markcmarino.com/til/picker/allgenders.htmlption


     Yet, even after being assigned and reading about my gender's traits, I was still hesitant to create a profile. I felt unsure... What was going through my mind: What exactly is a thermophile?! (Now would be a good time to mention that I missed the "About" section of the website).

     I did a quick Google search and found myself on the Wikipedia page for Thermophile. Here I also read about Facultative thermophiles and discovered that they are considered "moderate" because they can survive at both high and lower temperatures.


     Leaving all of that "science-y" information behind, I moved forward in the #NetProv. In creating a profile, I tried to picture someone who would be comfortable in many different situations. Based on the suggested occupations for my gender, I  also imagined my thermophile as an adventurer.  @fac_Sulfie was born:

My Profile
     Initially, there were two ways to participate in forums: the user could chat within their own gender's forums, or the user could participate in the open "Hot Springs" forums. Throughout the week, I participated in 7 forums, including the Big Date at weeks end, and both post-experience reflections.
   
     Reflecting now on my participation with this #NetProv, I think that the subject made me feel a little distanced and reserved. I never felt truly comfortable and held back from participating in the way that I saw some other users interacting within the game. I will start by saying that I am not a science person (I know, I know... you didn't have to be a science person to play the game...). I just felt a certain level of distance from the subject matter (I am also not a dating site person) and could not immerse myself comfortably. Constantly running through my mind was the fear, "Am I doing this right? Am I thinking about this/ approaching this all wrong?" It was a road-block of sorts.

    I also felt that a user's level of interaction was sometimes limited by that of other users. For example, I was grouped with four other participants for "The Warm-Up Date" and "The Big Date", but I was the only person who posted in our forums. I could see that others were viewing the forums, but no one posted anything. No posts = no exchanges.


    Finally, I felt that the strict timeline for participation was a hindrance. This was likely a contributing factor in the lack of participation from my group. As a creative writer, I often feel that I need to write organically and not to a timeline.

    This #NetProv experience certainly made me think more deeply about the ways in which people interact in digital public spaces. There is a certain level of freedom that comes with anonymity. Some users were really able to jump into their character and let loose. I also believe that there is a different type of interaction and a different comfort level that occurs in small group interactions versus large forum participation. I think that some people may have felt more comfortable posting in the larger forums, while I felt the opposite.

   By participating in this experience, I also thought more critically about collaborative writing and  imagining. I felt unsure and a bit confused about my participation as my character. This feeling of disorientation with the subject matter made me pull back and feel hesitant.

   Finally, this adds a new level of understanding to my own research about online collaboration and participation within fan communities. I think that a certain level of comfort and understanding of the subject matter leads to more successful collective imagining. I also think that even in a anonymous setting, there needs to be a certain level of trust: you need to trust yourself and your comprehension of the experience, and you also need to trust others not to judge you and your mode of participation to harshly.

    

Blog #6- This Is How You Will Die

this-is
http://www.secrettechnology.com/artgames.html

Unfortunately, I could not access Jason Nelson’s This Is How You Will Die so the first time I really was able to see it was in class during the walkthrough. I found this piece of Elit to be entertaining as well as spooky and life reflecting. What really caught my attention was the slot machine that we had to spin in order to make our way closer and closer to our death. The way I believe the slot machine relates to the darkness of death is because of Las Vegas. When thinking of Vegas I think of “sin city” and just a place where lost souls go or end up. We discussed dry humor in the piece and some people said they believed it was funny while others were completely freaked out by it.

I once had a near death experience in which I truly thought I was going to die so this brought up those bad memories, but at the same time I am able to appreciate life more and find myself always wanting to laugh and smile. I was able to laugh at the craziness of this piece and its specifics on how each person will die. We did not have enough time to find out what our ending result of death would be, but I got the whole point of Nelson’s piece. I am kind of relieved because I believe somehow going through with it would make me paranoid in one way or another.

The scary music had a real effect on the piece in that it made you more nervous than anything else and the overall darkness of the piece itself with its images and sounds coming from people who sounded a little mentally unstable made it that much more spooky. Overall I did enjoy the piece, but I believed it was a little overwhelming both physically and mentally. There was a lot going on with each spin and also sitting there thinking of what could happen in life and that anytime we could die, it’s a scary thought just like this was a scary elit piece!

Ally’s Elit World 2016-11-01 20:32:00

Again I have found a piece that helps me realize how important sound is within a piece of Elit. "This is how you die" is a game online in form of a slot machine one could find in a casino. Except this game won't bring you a dollar and some change if you're lucky. This game is actually frightening and it's main focus is death and how the player will get there. I took a couple ideas as inspiration from this piece. For example the voices of the man and woman, I enjoyed that. The eerie music was also a great addition to the whole piece. This definitely wasn't one of my favorites but for sure one of the oddest pieces. I found myself not being able to listen to it by myself in my room because it made me that uncomfortable. It wasn't as interactive as other pieces but I did enjoy the fact that I was playing a slot machine and had credits. That made the game realistic in a way even though this is a literature piece. I am interested to see what Kelly has to say about this piece because out of all of them, this is the one I find myself having the least amount of words to explain how I feel about it. I will definitely say I enjoyed the sounds and imagery.

Blog Post #6: Review of “This is how you will Die!”

Image result for this is how you will die“This is how you will die” By: Jason Nelson is a piece made up of as described as dry humor. This piece uses a slot machine interface to randomly generate a story board of the readers’ demise, allowing the reader to continue spinning the slot machine, as long as she has credits remaining. With that aspect, it reminded me of being in Vegas and playing at your own will. Knowing you have high stakes and high chances of loosing money, You still play to try your luck. What I didn’t like about this piece was the was it spun and how certain hypertext would try to make you click otherwise. What was disturbing to me was how when opening the tab the tab says, “slotdeath”. This actually made me think something was going to pop up on my screen. Playing a slot game to determine my death and let me know how it happened isn’t something I would want to play in real life. The circumstances as well as the causes of deaths, including what happens to your body and after are all absurd and pretty disturbing. The only thing that might have felt like it belonged  the music, the short animated pieces and the “explain death” poem. In this, as in other works of e-poetry by Jason Nelson, playful interfaces and darkly humorous tone serve as cover for serious themes and personal exploration. By the end of this piece, I was not really a fan. I would look at the prompt that stated congratulations you have won more spins, when in all actuality, I did not want to continue playing. I actually wanted to stop playing after reading the first spin. I did not enjoy this piece and I would not had continued to read it if it were not for this class. I usually tend to look at the bright side of pieces of elit that are written in gruesome and gory ways.

This is How You Will Die.

in-loving-memory

Jason Nelson’s piece “This Is How You Will Die” is interestingly unique. At first, I didn’t know how to internalize the concept of the piece; the piece isn’t the most interactive as there is only one button to roll over (which reveals a poem), the box to view how many credits are available to spin, and the death spin button that activates the slot machine to then generate a random scenario for the reader’s death. Throughout the entire piece, spine-chilling music plays and there are door icons with numbers that loop audio clips of random topics on death. Some of the audio clips are of just a woman talking or just a man. Other times there is a man and a woman having a conversation about death. Unfortunately, the text on the pictures for the audio clips switches too fast and I couldn’t get a good sense of what each of them were saying. The piece definitely brings forth a air of fortune or chance with the different ways that people can die, and the function of a slot machine does make the piece seem more game-like or like death is just game or something.

The voices in this work are very haunting. What adds to this is the fact that the audio clips don’t just play once and then stop, but in fact stay on a loop until something else is clicked on. I am almost at a loss for words with this piece. I am not sure what else I could say other than the fact that it was haunting and it was displayed in a very lighthearted way. I am not sure that I actually enjoyed it as some might have. I am not sure if I understand the point of the piece. I am definitely interested in Kelli’s interpretation and presentation of this piece and I can’t wait to engage in discussion about this to hear other perspectives.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-12-26-32-pm

This is How You Die: Jason Nelson

Just in time for Halloween: This is How You Die, by Jason Nelson

This is a game that is set up like an online slot machine. The pictures that are in place in a regular slot machine have been replaced by short pieces of text that are meant to predict the users death. The prediction is divided into four parts: location, method, result, and post-result. Each spin produces a completely random combination (some making more sense than others!).

The screen that contains the "slot machine" as a few interactive buttons that you can scroll over. One is "explain death" which provides a dismal and creepy outlook on life and death. "Demise credits" displays a number that is reduced each time a death spin is made. The user starts with 28 credits and the game informs you that at least 10 are needed in order to make a spin. Finally, "death spin" activates the game.

On the first spin, a clip of a man singing, "you're dead, you're dead..." plays. The entire time the game is open, spooky music plays. There are repetitive thud sounds and swells of a repeated noise.

Here are my first results:

"Driving a Kansas highway, watching hail storms whiten the knee high wheat fields/ You are weather trapped and after four days blood clots vacation in your brain/ And while your death breath draws you play an imaginary golf game with leaves/ the cab driver hides your body in an off season amusement park/ Your death is reported by tenure seeking academics as being suspiciously modernist"

Now I have 24 demise credits; I spin again. This time, my results make much less sense. Basically, I lock up shop at "Hobby Cakes", get my loose skin stuck in a cab door, am dragged 2 miles, and then my family says that I did it on purpose.  I also apparently published an unsuccessful book of poetry.

15 demise credits:

I still write bad poetry! Yet this time, I'm at the Grand Canyon, and jocks steal machines that I need in order to stay alive.

At 6 demise credits, I'm out; I'm unable to make a spin.

Exiting and coming back into the game, I notice something that I previously missed. Next to some elements of the predictions, there are little numbers that you can press. These activate short video clips that repeat imagery of death and creepy text. I also win some demise credits this time. Text pops up: "Good: you have won extra death spins/ Bad: blood disease".

This was creepy/ fun. Note to self: stay away from the Grand Canyon, Kansas, and poetry.

Ally’s Elit World 2016-10-25 20:00:00

This was a very interesting game/Elit piece. I am fascinated by the pieces that are considered games because they aren't one's usual electronic video game. They are much more than that. This piece was a game because of the pieces put together to build the woman and discover all of the objects that make her whole. I enjoyed all the noises and music and voices with random comments that helped describe what was going on in the scene.
There was one scene I related to most and that was when the woman was talking about what she wears and what it means. She mentioned how what a woman wears like jewelry or clothing does not depict who they are on the inside. I totally relate to that in the sense that for work, I have to dress in all black every single day. In order to dress up my all black look, I have to wear jewelry and accessorize. I always relate all-black to a more gothic style so I feel like what I'm wearing on the outside does not symbolize who I am on the inside.
"Pieces of Herself" has a lot to do with women and how they realize who they are and what makes them who they are as a person. This piece plays with sounds and colors which I think is done to keep the reader/game player entertained and intrigued. At least that's what it did for me. I enjoyed all of the scenes where there were black and white backgrounds but the pieces itself were colorful. It was pretty scary the way it started in the bathroom with blood on the curtains. This raised a lot of questions in my mind but I just kept going because it had me wanting more.
Something I noticed about this piece that I liked is that it doesn't have a clear ending. It made me understand that my Elit piece won't have to be a story that has a clear beginning with a problem and a solution with a perfect ending. Our Elit stories won't be a typical novel setup. It can just be a piece that has a character or characters in an important setting with a message to the viewers and that can just be it. The idea of what I have for my piece is that I want to have a girl be able to see her life with three different guys. You can click the different faces and with each one will be a different journey. I thought of this idea because of my friends who just don't know how to pick the right guy. So in my piece I want the mean guy to yell out different blurbs like "go change I don't like what you're wearing" and the second guy to say "you better call me when you get there and when you leave. If I don't get a call we're going to have problems" and then the third guy to say "I was thinking for dinner we can do Chinese and then watch this movie I bought us tickets for,  what do you think?" . This way - the player can have a chance to see what their journey in life could be like with each possible guy. But each one will start off nice and throughout the game - their true characters will show. This is just a thought for right now. With time I will work on clearer images and sounds for my piece.

Tinkering Session

I have been writing my blogs in advance and then scheduling them, so I didn't get a chance to add my elit thoughts to last week's blog. I am considering two ideas. One: I am getting in the spirit of Halloween, and I kind of want to tell a story of a family who is experiencing some kind of haunting in their home, but I want to tell it from the family dog's perspective. I think that this could be fun. Two: I have a short story started that I might want to adapt to an elit piece.

For either of those options, I want to find tools that I can use to combine sound, images, and text (maybe video too...).

I started out by checking out Google Story Builder. This was not what I was looking for... I just kept asking myself, "Am I missing something?" This seems like a neat way to teach kids about collaborative writing though. I will keep this in mind for future projects. I also looked at Thinglink, but this too seems like something that I probably can't use for this particular project.

Then I got distracted by trying to make a Voki for way too long...

The tool that I liked the most so far is one that I can use as an element in my elit piece. It is WordFoto, and it is pretty cool. The images that you can create with the app by combining pictures and words are both visually interesting and a little disturbing. Perfect for the theme of my elit piece! When looking pictures to upload into the app, I looked on Creative Commons. I then played around with creating my own WordFoto. Here are some of my results:



~ Pieces of Herself ~

pieces-poem

I found the concept for this particular feminist piece of E Literature by Juliet Davis to be very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed navigating the piece as the reader is prompted to search for the hidden colorful objects in various areas and place them on a silhouette of a woman’s body to the lefthand side of the screen. What is very interesting is the fact that none of the pieces are able to be removed once they are placed in whatever respective areas the reader chooses to put them down. By the end of the piece, then, the reader ultimately “makes” the woman into whatever he/she chooses instead of the woman being able to piece herself back together and “find herself” as she says she has set out to do before the piece begins. A women’s identity in society is very much socially constructed to the point where what can come of the woman is nothing more but a sense of brokenness and deterioration.

Everything that a woman can experience, whether it be heartbreak or a struggle with personal insecurities and body image is practically inscribed on her and carved into her from birth. The apple on the tree outside alludes to a man ruling over a woman, which is a concept that was very much socially acceptable for centuries really climaxing in the 50s as the man was seen as the dominant figure and the head of a household. A woman’s life was lead in such a way to prepare her for taking care of her children, her home, and catering to her husband; Unfortunately, there wasn’t much else to aspire to as women did not have a very dominant role in too many other things. The emotion of this piece was increasingly heightened as some of the hidden objects played music. When the clip of “Que Sera Sera” started, it was extremely despairing as it confirms the very miserable existence the woman in the piece (representing many) had. Whatever will be… will be and there wasn’t much a motive to do anything else. She lives for putting others before herself.

I was intrigued in certain scenes by the different actions that would take place as the mouse rolled over the different sections of the screen. There was an area in the kitchen where the reader could roll over and it would tuck in the chair at the dinner table, which I thought to be an allusion to the way women were trained to act and carry themselves regarding table manners or mannerisms in general. Sayings like “Don’t forget to wash your hands” ring throughout the piece more than once like a broken record. The piece itself is described as a polemic on the information page when the world is first entered. This idea made me wonder if the author was going for a very clear understanding that this piece could be a sarcastic take on societies very outward exhibition of a women’s contempt, or if it is just an attack on the views put onto women by society. All in all, it is evident that the woman and women in general are in pieces and never quite put back together in a sound way from all that is endured, leaving the end result to be complex and in some ways very disturbing.

 

Tool Testing: I ended up going through the list on the course’s website to get a feel for what each tool is for and what it can do. Thing link is very interesting and can come in handy if I would like to put text over a map maybe, but as far as testing something out I stuck with Powerpoint this week. I know that there is so much that I can do with it, but I still have a lot of playing around to do with the program to get to a point where I may be comfortable using it to create my entire project. Some of the different effects with fading and moving text may be hard to do in Powerpoint with the way that I am seeing it in my head. I know that there’s an ability to fade things in and out and video shouldn’t be a problem unless I create one and it decides not to play on other devices when people try to access my piece. The strongest impressions made on me so far from the pieces we have seen (regarding the components that make it up and how the piece is navigated through) is Like Stars in a Night Sky and High Muck a Muck. I do not wish to achieve exactly what is done in these pieces in just this one project for the semester, but I want to find a way to emulate them with my spin on it (if that makes sense). I’m thinking some of the most prominent aspects of my piece will be visuals, video, and narration. Powerpoint should have the ability to do all of those I guess, but as aforementioned, I will have to play around with it more because I am honestly unsure at the moment if it is what I would like to work with. I do recognize that it is a powerful tool, though, and I am in no way casting it off. I just want to explore more options.

"Pieces of Herself"

Before experiencing this piece of electronic literature, I thought that the premise of the narrative was going to be much darker, so to say. I loved that it still touched on concepts of gender identity and social construction of what a woman is "seen as," and I think that the paper doll idea was very creative and effective in showing these "tangible" pieces. However, I thought that the "pieces" of this woman were going to be picked up after possibly having a traumatic event, namely something sexual, and putting herself slowly together in order to reclaim her own identity.

While I enjoyed the piece, I wish Juliet Davis would have done more. I think she could have inherently gone further with the idea. For example, I thought that biblical verse about the "job of women" was particularly chilling and effective, and I wish there were more glimpses of dark societal moments and presumptions about what it is to be female throughout. I felt like she held something back. Still, the sound bytes of the different interviews with women, especially in the office, were effective in adding to the tone of the piece; again, though, I wish we would have seen more of that.

For my own project for Elit, I tried to experiment with inklewriter, thinglink, and popcorn maker, but none of those programs were what I wanted to convey my story. Instead, I have decided to do it all through wix, since I think I will be able to actually imagine my ideas through the website, even if I have to implement coding to get certain effects for my navigational elements.


Wix allows me to create icons and have lightboxes and different elements pop up without necessarily leaving the page. I want it to look like a desktop background, and have icons the reader is able to explore to "experience" this romance I am writing. Additionally, I have done further storyboarding for the story, and I'm excited to develop it more. I don't want to give too much away, but it will definitely have a darker twist to it - nothing will appear as it is on the surface, and the reader will have to click on things to really uncover the true narrative going on. I know that sounds vague, but I promise! It'll be great.