14 Smash Cuts of Confusion

You can watch my walk-through and interpretation of Thirty Flights of Loving above (please excuse my nervousness and soft voice- I will add subtitles shortly).
The newly popped up genre of gaming called indie can be perfectly illustrated with the game Thirty Flights of Loving. Developed by Brendon Chung and his small team, the story’s narrative takes us through nonsequential events revolving around a trio and their failed heist. A police chase, two vehicular accidents and a lover holding the protagonist at gun point in betrayal all take place in this dystopian world. Told in a first person shooter game, the stage and subtle hints are what unfold this powerful and irresistible story in under 15 minutes.

Although short, it takes more than one play-through to get through the scraps of events shuffled around like a deck of cards with smash cuts to ineffectively buffer the scenes. With the insipid graphics, a lack of that game feel where you get to make your own decisions, and unexplained and seemingly arbitrary scenes like the unauthorized rooftop wedding, I can understand why some people may have found Thirty Flights of Loving under developed. Instead of the exciting action usually encountered in first person shooter games, we’re invited to observe and walk-through a narrative of ostensibly disparate events. Players (or the audience if you refuse to think of TFOL as a game) need to struggle and reason their way through the game in order to link the events in a chronological order, and most games don’t invite their audience to rationalize their way through their story.

Without any complicated graphics, Brendon was able to get across the story through cinematic editing and visual cues. Blurred scenes representing intoxication and unreliable narratives, pink-hued scenes portraying romantic bliss before a tragic consequence, and beds tinged in a sickly green color suggesting the infidelity that occurred there, all help clue in that there is more behind the failed heist than just a simple betrayal. The original music, composed and performed by Chris Remo, carries the narrative forward by setting the pace and mood, and lets the game sweep us out of control without getting too chaotic.

The telling of the story and the way details were intricated throughout such a short game, caught my attention so much that I found my self logging over two hours playing this game. Noticing the fine details and catching references sprinkled throughout charmed me so that I enjoyed getting to the story more than actually understanding the plot.

Works Cited:

Thirty Flights of Loving. Brendon Chung. Blendo Games, 2011. Computer game.

 

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The Future of Storytelling

Touchscreen fiction writing is a newly evolved mode of storytelling and uses a varied blend of media. PRY, published by Tender Claws, was created by Danny Cannizzaro and Samantha Gorman and is the perfect example of a touchscreen fiction in the form of an app. Through a combination of film, text, and audio, PRY tells the story of a veteran named James, six years after returning from the first Gulf War. We get to explore James’ distorted psych as he relives visions of his past and try to decipher the lies he tells himself. By successfully integrating a multimedia platform, PRY shows us what the future can hold for readers.

The app uses a variety of touch gestures to inspect James’ narrative, including pinching open to see through his eyes, pinching closed to see flashing words depicting his subconscious, releasing to read his bare thoughts, and even sliding your finger across the screen to read braille. Moving beyond flipping pages of a book, this highly interactive form appeals to new generations of readers who are normally occupied with engaging entertainment. The gestures were well done and are brilliantly woven to flow smoothly and effectively to present the story. My only concern would be that PRY’s touch gestures were not standardized between chapters, which could be disorienting and pushes the boundaries with the already erratic narrative.

The plot itself, of PRY, is perplexing only because James’ distorted mind disorients the audience. James’ days are plagued with visions of the past and his conscious never recounts his memories in a steady manner. Paired with his failure to accept a defining and horrifying incident that happened while he was in war, understanding PRY’s story can be challenging.

Although PRY took a team countless hours to produce and the story was confusing and easily misinterpreted, I believe touchscreen fiction has the potential of being a future genre for storytelling.

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Works Cited:

Cannizzaro, Danny, and Samantha Gorman. PRY. Tender Claws, 2016. Touchscreen Fiction.

 

Unheard Tales – Diamonds in the Rough

A form of storytelling not commonly traversed by readers is digital storytelling. Digital stories are short films that feature still photos, audio, videos, and usually a voiceover narration. They are usually easy and inexpensive to make and are done to convey a passionate message. Seeing Differently by Sarita Daftary is one of a few digital stories made to present East New York Farms! Project (ENYF!), a project addressing “food justice” in a local community (ENYF!). Daftary describes the potential and “human survival” that Daftary saw and how she watched a whole neighbourhood flourish by working together to build a sustainable and economical community garden. StoryCenter, the heart of most digital stories, helped facilitated the making of Seeing Differently and has supported more than 20,000 digital stories like it (StoryCenter).

Compared to branded contents, which are aimed to perfectly hook and reel in their target audience, we get the heartfelt emotions of a short, sincere video made for the only purpose of inciting empathy. Although the message reaches less people, and is unlikely to reach a target audience because of a lack of marketing, the feelings induced are much stronger and effective. The viewers observe the low budget and aesthetic quality of the digital story and know that they can trust the story being told and where it came from.

The beauty of digital story telling (and also the short-fall) is that it doesn’t need to be published to be reached by the public. With the convenience of the internet, thousands of digital stories can be made accessible without paying a buck. Regrettably, this also means that the message is seen by less people and that the obviously amateurish videos can deter much of the audience. This is unfortunate because many of the digital stories contain valuable, unheard anecdotes that demand to be listened to.

Works Cited:

“About StoryCenter.” STORYCENTER. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2016.

Daftary, Sarita. “Seeing Differently – East New York Farms! (ENYF!).” YouTube. StoryCenter, 2015. Web. 29 July 2016.

“Who Are We.” East New York Farms! N.p., n.d. Web. 29 July 2016.

The Loss of a Way of Life

Please read through E. Pauline Johnson’s retelling of “Deer Lake” who she first heard orally from Chief Joe Capilano. Then follow through Chief’s journey again using the following map I made. You may click on the pins to read snippets of the first Chief Capilano’s story. Again: please see this map!!

The story “Deer Lake” by E. Pauline Johnson is about the first Chief Capilano losing his ancestors’ elk-bone spear while hunting the “very king of seals” (Johnson) near the coast currently known as Point Grey. He then spends the following months looking for the mighty seal, his reliable rope and his precious spear. A year later, after following an ominous red reflection in the sky, Chief Capilano finds his lost things still attached to the carcass of the seal near Dear Lake, surrounded by a forest fire.

What struck me the most about this story while reading it was how the Chief journeyed alone through the Lower Mainland. As he canoed through quiet streams and churning rapids and as he walked through trails between ancient trees, he never mentioned seeing another soul. If someone was to undertake a similar adventure across Vancouver today, they wouldn’t be able see the same silent forests, enticing rivers, or even watchful sky. I compared the two Vancouvers, the one from the past and the current one, by overlaying Chief Capilano’s journey over modern street maps with conforming and strict straight lines to show the unrecoverable ancient Vancouver.

Screenshot (1)

Through mapping one story of one individual, I was also able to see how intricately woven the stories of First Nations are embedded in the land. When zooming out of the map, the captions, pins, and tracks become indiscernible. Considering the many Aboriginal stories ingrained in just one small area, it becomes glaringly pronounced how much culture we have lost through colonization.

An immense part of Aboriginal culture and heritage is tied to the lands which we live in; and through irreparably modifying these borrowed lands to fit our standards, we have not only diminished the lives of First Nations people, but have lost a whole civilization.

 

Works Cited

Johnson, E. Pauline. Legends of Vancouver. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1913. Print.

 

Innovative Entertainment in Digital Story Writing

When I first read the short psychological thriller called “Your Place and Mine” by the couple Nicci Gerrard and Sean French, I thought that it was fairly well written. Even though the hints of “something is not right” could have been more subtle and woven in with more forethought, the story still managed to thrill me with its gruesome end. Once I found out, through an interview of the creators, that the authors had written “Your Place and Mine” almost on the spot in front of a live online audience, I greatly appreciated their dynamic storytelling. Suddenly, the back and forth short lines– almost like a chat, but with private thoughts – between the two characters, Terry and Laurence, seemed ingenious and perfectly fitting for the way the story was revealed. Readers also get a chance to read the raw, unfiltered writing which seems appropriate for developing an unstable character like Terry. The writers get a more responsive and interactive audience and get to see their responses in real time, while the audience members feel more connected with authors by seeing their real time (although fabricated) typing and backspaces. Even if the authors felt anxious with writing in front of thousands of readers, they felt excited to be able to engage readers in a completely original way by slowly revealing a riveting story bit by bit. This form of digital story writing manages to encompass the spirit of writing but with a genius twist in entertainment, making it successful and hopefully one of the first of many to come.

Gerrard, Nicci, and Sean French. “Your Place and Mine.” We Tell Stories. Penguin, 7 Apr. 2008. Web. 24 June 2016.

Snail-Moving Plot or Riveting Characters?

How Austen’s excessive characterization competes with building eccentric characters in Sanditon

Austen, Jane, and Margaret Drabble. Lady Susan ; The Watsons ; Sanditon. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. EBook.

           As Jane Austen lay in her bed ailing of an unknown disease some 200 years ago, she took to her pen and wrote the beginnings of an auspicious book named Sanditon. Taking place in a fishing village turned resort called Sanditon, the novel begins to explore the intricate relationships of various interesting characters who have amassed there. This novel is told through the eye of our detached heroine named Charlotte who observes people feigning illness, a love-struck seducer, and other odd visitors who have assembled in this village. Through this narrative, we can get a glimpse of the turbulent thoughts that may have been going through Austen’s mind as she lay in her death bed. Although Austen’s unfinished novel failed to deliver a compelling enough plot with its huge emphasis on character development, it was well written with ironic tones.

           Readers who are well acquainted with Austin’s other works may be familiar with her particularly descriptive writing. Rather than telling a story with striking plot twists or an exciting storyline, she prefers to entice readers with highly developed characters. Stories written by her hand become less about the physical happenings of characters and more about how they overcome flaws, prejudices, and reassess one another. Similarly, it seems that Sanditon was headed in a similar direction. Although I found myself slightly captivated with a few odd characters such as Arthur Parker and Sir Edward Denham, I found Sanditon’s storyline a little strained because of the unreliable narratives. While riding up to Sanditon, Mr. Parker describes Lady Denham as “a very good-natured woman” (Austen 166) only to be refuted after our heroine, Charlotte, has a conversation with her and decides that she is “thoroughly mean” (189). Mr. Parker is then judged by Charlotte as “too mild…and not to be trusted” (189).  I began to feel frustrated that Austen took great care in setting up her characters in lengthy chapters only to contradict it later on a few short pages. Even though I can appreciate the intricacies of Austin’s narrative in this incomplete novel, I would have enjoyed it more if it included more engaging conflicts beyond the changing opinions of characters.

           The few scenes or lines that continued to engage me through what would have otherwise been a tedious reading had an undertone of humor and irony. It was hard to miss Austen’s scorn at the various remedies that trended at the time and used the three hypochondriac Parker siblings to show it. Stories of a sister with a persistent headache had “three teeth drawn” (175) to cure it, testimony of their coachman’s sprained ankle miraculously cured through the “immediate use of friction…for six hours” (174), and a brother claiming that two cups of green tea could “take away the use of [his] right side” (202) undermined any seriousness in their characters. One particular scene that was laced thickly with humor describes the Parker brother made cocoa and spreading butter on his toast. After concocting excessively thick cocoa and boasting as a good toaster, he asserts that dry toast is “very bad indeed for the coats of the stomach” (202) and proceeds to thickly coat his toast with butter. Such odd scenes, that endeared me to the characters, seemed almost misplaced in the story and could only be for the purpose of further establishing characters. Because I found Austen’s amusing scenes a very entertaining way to develop character, I was able to keep reading through what would have otherwise been a dreary narrative.

           Admitting that I did find a few fatal flaws in Sanditon, as the writing style and static plot threw me off, I recognize that this story was able to hook me in with a few outlandish lines. As Sanditon had potential, as it had not been given the opportunity to grow as Austen had intended before her untimely demise, I give it the benefit of my doubt and would give this novel a timid three and a half stars.

A Kaleidoscope of Body Parts

 

 

The first thing that catches your attention as you open “my body – a Wunderkammer” by Shelley Jackson, is the audio of deep and heavy breaths and a black and white sketch of the lower face of a person. The title and soundtrack lends itself to impress that the author plans to be bold and maybe even brazen as she presents her own body in this work; this turns out to be true. Clicking the banner leads to another sketch, this time of a woman’s naked body drawn in stark white over a black background. The drab picture seems to objectify her by putting her on full display and labeling her body parts with purpose and little care for what they mean to her. With no clear beginning or end, it’s to the discretion of readers on how to start – which body part to click on first. Each section contains anecdotes and half-formed recollections of how the woman grew up with and explored her body. Links embedded in seemingly irrelevant words or phrases lead to other parts or unnamed facets of herself to build a kaleidoscope – a wunderkammer – of her body. Although my Pinterest board is not nearly as intricately woven, I strived to reflect a similar mood that Jackson gave using  fragmented scandalous photos and drawings of women. Faces drawn with perfect proportions, a half-formed portrait, a mesh of organs wedged into a torso and numerous women bared on display emphasizes some of the struggles women may feel growing up in an objectifying environment.

Jackson, Shelley. “‘my Body’ – a Wunderkammer & (Shelly Jackson).” ‘my Body’ – a Wunderkammer & (Shelly Jackson). N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2016.