Blasting off

Before I start discussing the short story that this entry is about, I want to ask you a question. Have you ever thought about doing something that is more than likely impossible to do, but you still get away with it? For instance, stealing a rocket seems impossible to do, however with a well thought out plan your chances of stealing a rocket could rise. I bring up a question like that because in this story a group of friends do that exactly. Digital Witnesses by Andrea Corbin is a story about you. You are running and you are being watched by “everyone”. You won’t find out who “everyone” is until you figured out why you are running.


Screenshot of the first passage

From experience, it is best if you do not figure out why you are running right away. The reason being is that you could potentially miss a lot of your story and another important character’s story if you try to speed through and manage not to get trapped in one of the loops.  The loops in this short story are rather important since they tell you what your childhood was like, what job you currently have, and what kind of family raised you. Without any of that information you would not understand why you are running or have a reason to run let alone steal a rocket. Trust me looping in the story is not frustrating since you are constantly learning something new about yourself with every passage.

To not spoil the full experience of the story I want to discuss it’s creation. Andrea Corbin managed to create this story in under 24 hours for a challenge on Being able to create such a story within that time period and with a set number of passages seems rather difficult to accomplish. Yet, she was able create such an interesting short story for anyone to read and play with, but for some reason this short story doesn’t feel like one. Maybe the way she detailed your background and actions in the story made it feel longer or maybe it felt longer just because of the loops and how long you could forge your pathway to the end of the story. What do you think?

Feel free to try out this rather interesting Twine story and state you opinions and feelings about it. In case you missed it there is a link in the first paragraph. Until next time.

  5 comments for “Blasting off

  1. kutoof
    March 23, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Your introduction got me hooked on your article! I love that you opened up a question to us directly especially because the story that you’re writing a review on, is about “you” and “us”. I like that you stress the importance of actually experiencing the game rather than playing it to just win. In video games, most gamers will want to get the major tasks done to win the game and don’t do the side small tasks. But they can be important to learn more about your character’s past and who they might be. When you say “for some reason this short story doesn’t feel like one.” What do you mean by that?

    I will definitely check out this twine game! Mentioning the fact that it was done in under 24hours makes the game seem like it could be interesting and challenging but that encouraged me to play the game even more. Just one more thing, I think if you mention that the sentence: “So what is it? Are you escaping? Are you fleeing? Are you chasing?” is mentioned on almost every page of Digital Witness, would add significance to your already awesome review!

  2. Dylan Tibert
    March 24, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I think the finesse with which Digital Witnesses structures the loops through which it establishes context is really significant as an indicator of how complex and difficult it can be to imbue a hypertext story with flow and accessibility. With much of the hypertext fiction we’ve read, I’ve felt somewhat overcome by rapidly expanding possibility of different content that I am compelled to read. When a page has multiple hypertext links and I click on one, only to find that the ones I neglected aren’t coming up in later links I become anxious that I am not getting the whole picture and so I am compelled to go back and make sure I read it. This feeling can be a really powerful effect if that’s what the piece is going for, but if an author depends on the cohesiveness of all it’s pages then I don’t believe it works as well. In this piece, I was incredibly impressed with how the loops managed establish a sense of holistically thorough progression while still daring me to engage with the medium in unconventional ways. For example, I was rewarded for clicking “her” as it appeared multiple times with a more expansive narrative about the speaker’s relationship with this woman, despite the urge to assume it would simply be the same content I had accessed before. It’s by no means a standard by which hypertext narratives should follow, but I really appreciated the sense of flow in this particular piece.

  3. nbemis
    March 24, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    I was impressed by a lot of this story’s components, first of which was pure expansiveness of it. Hearing that this was made in 24 hours is absolutely incredible to me. Andrea Corbin made a world in a day, and that is something to be applauded. I’m also very fond of the immersion allowed by not describing the physical features or gender of the protagonist (along with, of course, calling the protagonist “you”).

    This story also made me think a bit about what Twine can be used to do. While it seems like the most logical thing (to me) to use Twine to create a choose-your-own-adventure story, it is absolutely possible and valid for another person to use it to tell a more straightforward story.

  4. March 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I’m completely bowled over to see your discussion of my little story. You’re all so thoughtful, and bring up excellent points. Thank you for spending some time with it!

    I agree, by the way, with Dylan’s comment about feeling anxious that you’re not getting the whole picture, that the path not taken has some important chunk of the story. I feel the same way as a reader/player, which is why I often default to a more linear (well, as linear as a twisting, looping hypertext story can be) narrative. In a story like this, there might be embellishments that every reader doesn’t see, but every reader who finishes should feel satisfied.

    Also, I am utterly jealous to see a class on electronic literature. I hope you’re having a blast!

  5. Grace Draper
    March 31, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    This is a fantastic example of the use of loops. A lot of loops can be frustrating, others can be functional as far as setting you back to a different place if you’ve gone too far in a direction you prefer not to continue in. The way this author uses loops to help you experience different aspects of the character which is really productive, and doesn’t let you miss too much by learning about the character — something some readers worry about because they are more invested in the action than the story.

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