You are the newly elected President of the United States, and face a series of decisions about climate change that will shape our world. All eyes are on you – good luck.
My final project is a Twine based interactive fiction focused on sustainability, climate change, and a “greener” future. You, as the reader, play as the recently elected President of the United States, and face a series of decisions that will shape the future. This project was inspired by a number of current events, including the controversial 2016 Presidential election, the growing concerns over President-elect Trump’s policies towards the environment, and the increased urgency with which climate change issues must be dealt.
Twine works very well as the platform for this type of story, as the choice-based story progression allows the reader to control the narrative. I used hyperlinks extensively to direct the reader to real world sources on climate change, making it clear that this isn’t nearly as fictitious of a story as it might otherwise seem. Many of the grim endings are based largely on real models and present day predictions. Twine’s support of images allowed an additional layer of information and immersion to the story. Graphs of increasing CO2 levels and drawings from elementary school students are used to reinforce the narrative.
I don’t think any of the other platforms we discussed in this class could be as effective or impactful as Twine for this project. While I would imagine it would be possible to create a moving story about the climate through Machinima or Twitter, neither of these platforms give the reader agency, a crucial element to this experience. The only constraint/hinderance that Twine caused during this project was the inevitable exponentiation of the story. Each choice created a forking path, quickly making the story complicated and unwieldy. There were a series of choices that primarily impacted the order of events, so several nearly parallel plot branches needed to be built in different orders. According to Twine, the final story encompasses 24,000 words across 160 passage boxes. While it was a times frustrating to keep track of such a sprawling story, I enjoyed writing it and hope that my readers will finish with a new appreciate of the environment and empowered to change the world.
At the end, the reader knows that he/she is solely responsible for what the story became, forcing the reader to take responsibility and accept the consequences of their decisions. By design, none of the passages have a back button – you cannot back out of choices you’ve made. Some of the “positive” story endings give you the opportunity to return to the beginning and explore the outcomes of different decisions. This pedagogical exploration is designed to show the reader how poorly things could’ve gone instead; a warning of the future that could be. By contrast, none of the darker endings provide this opportunity – the reader must accept the grave consequences of their actions. This sharp juxtaposition further inculcates the finality and impact of environmental decisions.