My story, entitled “Silenced,” follows a young female college student who is a victim of sexual assault and is unable to heal from her trauma because of society’s rape culture, victim blaming, and slut shaming. I chose to write my story in a medium built for locative narratives, 7scenes, because I felt that by incorporating the actual locations, it would force the reader to actually have go from place to place and feel the pain the main character has to go through, putting him or her in the shoes of so many sexual assault victims, many of whose stories go untold or are trivialized into shame and silence.
Although I think that locative narrative was a particularly effective medium for my story, there were also many constraints that 7scenes imposed. One of the biggest ones was that, unfortunately, the free version does not come with any other option other than Sight Seeing, which meant that I could not lock the locations and force the reader to go on a prearranged path. Since my story was a pretty traditional narrative that had a certain order of events that should not be read out of order, this was particularly constraining. For instance, I had a location that was quite close to one of the other locations found earlier in the story, so if you walked past it to get to the right location, there is a good chance the wrong text box will pop up when it should not be read yet. I found a way around this by asking readers to head a certain way at the end of a text, but I felt that it detracted from the story and the immersive element. Not only that, the reader doesn’t actually have to go to the location to read the text, which really kills the entire point.
I also was unable to format my text in any way; this meant that I could not bold, italicize, or center any of my text, and I would have wanted to include italics in order to convey Amanda’s inner thoughts to herself, such as her talking to herself when she blames herself for the incident. Another constraint was that I had only 2500 characters per block of text. Fortunately, you could add a multimedia marker that would allow you to create two slides at a location, but I still had to think about where I would leave off on a block of text and start a new one.
7scenes also had a lot of really great affordances, many that I did not take full advantage of or explore at all. Granted, many of the affordances were more suited to a game-like story and would not have fit my theme. I did play around with adding pictures, audio, and video in hopes that it added more realism or at least connected what you were viewing on your phone with the world around you.
I don’t think that any other medium would have been more effective than 7scenes, but I think an interesting take on these themes would be to express them through a hypertext fiction such as Twine. Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime, with an estimated 63% not being reported to the police for a variety of complex reasons, and Twine with its affordance of choice and alternate routes could illustrate how victims deal with the aftermath and their wounds in different ways.
I hope that although my story may be lacking in many ways, especially coming from someone who has not experienced this personally, it still has the ability to make one feel empathy towards the main character and sexual assault victims everywhere.
If you would like to read through my story, download 7scenes and search for “Silenced.” Download it and start at the green marker.