College Life: a Hypertext Choose-Your-Own Adventure… Adventure?

For my creative project, I chose to use Twine mainly because I understood it better than the other types of Electronic Literature we’ve explored so far this semester, but also because I wanted to create a Choose-Your-Own Adventure kind of game. Also, Inform and Scratch confused me so much during class and I didn’t really want to throw my computer out of my window in frustration doing this project. Therefore, I created my Creative Project entitled “College Life.”

The idea behind “College Life” is pretty basic: it’s a story on your life as a college student. Simple right? The beginning is pretty simple too, asking really basic questions such as “Are you a girl or boy?” and “Do you like books or cheerleading?”

However, as you continue to make choices in the story, the storyline gets more complex and more cynical. Most of the scenarios I created in my project were based off typical “college life” stories you hear on the morning news or read about in the newspaper, such as getting an STD, committing suicide, getting raped, etc.

As the story progresses, instead of making any more choices, you end up “going with the flow” of the plot. Eventually, in the end, every single option leads to the same ending: death.

Yes, I do realize my overall project is, well, bleak and pessimistic; however, I find it to be extremely existential. As you are playing the game, the disappearance of options and choices towards the end of my project depicts our false sense of free will. This is similar to the theme of free will seen in Albert Camus’ novel, The Stranger. I was hoping that my project depicted the lack of free will that we really have because what happens to us in the future is predetermined by our past actions. Therefore, it is impossible for you to change your future.

Ironically, the ending somewhat debunks the entire idea behind existentialism. With existentialism, people believe that what you do defines your existence. The thought of a “fulfilled life” differs from one person to another since a fulfilled life consists of what choices you’ve made and what challenges you’ve overcome, as well as how happily, optimistically, and passionately you’ve lived your life.  However, in this story, it is actually impossible to live a fulfilling life since in the end, you will die no matter which path you chose to take. Nothing you did in your short life will change that inevitable fate.

Not going to lie, I actually had a pretty difficult time creating this project. Although making the actual game was somewhat easy, I still had some technological problems. One issue I had was that two of the links on my project weren’t working when I tested it even though they were connected perfectly on the map.

Below are images of the problem I had:

See? Nothing wrong, right? I was up until 2A.M. trying to figure out what was wrong until I eventually threw my hands in the air in defeat and emailed Professor Whalen begging for help. The next morning, I received an email back from him, which advised me to take the quotations off of the passage titles. At this point, I thought the project was still due at 10A.M. so I hastily opened my laptop in my 9A.M. class and tried Professor Whalen’s suggestion. And guess what? It worked!… and even in hindsight, I still think it was worth getting kicked out of class for (haha, don’t worry, I ended up explaining my situation to my professor and apologizing for it later).

Besides some of the technological issues, it was extremely hard for me as a writer to evoke the grim, disheartening, depressing emotions I wanted my readers to feel. I don’t consider myself a very good creative writer, so I think the creative writing aspect was probably the biggest hurdle I had to jump over for this project.

Overall, I’m actually pleased with my final product. I have already added it to my ePortfolio (scroll to the bottom) to showcase to potential employers and showed some of my friends my project (who all thought it was very depressing and gloomy… which were the emotions I was going for!). I wish I had more time to make the story plot more in-depth, but I feel like no text is ever fully complete to a writer.

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