The personal form in virtual space has developed as a multimedia experience, with creators able to produce text, comics, images, video, games, and other visuals and narratives and place them in a public forum without passing editorial barriers to entry. I define the “personal game” as separate from what are generally referred to as independent or indie games, which are still generally intended for commercial purposes and are more likely to be the product of multi-person endeavors. Personal games might be created by one or more people operating without intention of creating a product for commercial sale. The process is as important as the resulting game, as creators, players, and would-be creators of personal games are connected within communities sharing tools, ideas, and stories. The narrative experience of personal games can take their lead from commercial products, as with fan games, or they can tell entirely new stories. This dissertation will re-examine the personal narrative form as it has developed on the public multimedia platforms of the Internet. The personal narrative form as one accessible to all has existed since the age of widespread literacy: however, those memoirs, or diaries, were not often placed in a public forum. The personal narrative in virtual space, like the creation of the personal game itself, is a public act, redefining the genre and the act of creation.

Wake is a personal game as personal narrative that I am designing as part of my doctoral project. The game moves through mediums of expression as it moves through age: it will begin in crayon and fingerpaint, move to colored pencil, then marker, then acrylic paint. Every animation and setting is generated entirely in the physical world before becoming a digital environment. Thus, the main character, shown here in the marker or adolescence setting, is hand drawn in every state of walking and hand colored in each state. The concept is a merger of the digital and physical, of real selves and imagined ones:

The below images are screenshots of the current draft of the game, and show the general interface and interactions, which mimic those of a more traditional adventure game of the late 1990s. The game is produced with a tool of the personal game community called Adventure Game Studio. The sequence shown is from the marker stage. The goal is to expand this same model into different mediums to create the feel of different ages. As you watch this cycle of imagery, you'll see the progression of the character through the current rooms and some of the basic interactions, such as talking to a bed, picking up a snow globe, and being transported by a magic tapestry.

Obviously, realism isn't the focus. Instead, the goal is to rethink the objects and settings we take for granted. All the characters are in the girl's mind, as a commentary on how we view the world when we are young--and sometimes even when we are old. As the player will be making decisions for the character, it becomes a shared experience of personal narrative: the narrative I create, based on my own experience, and the narrative the player imposes. Objects such as the talking bed, shown below, play upon the familiar.

As I progress in designing the narrative experience, I will be using web prototyping through a combination of cycling screenshots, as demonstrated above, and through basic interactive fiction textual design, such as modeling simple choices and different potential outcomes to show the paths of the narrative. I will also be working on the game itself within the AGS environment.

The current version of the game can be downloaded here.

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