GIVE ME YOUR GUN
ROLE : CREATIVE DIRECTOR
GAMES FOR CHANGE, JANUARY 2016 - JUNE 2016
Give Me Your Gun is an interactive theater game which premiered at the Games for Change Festival 2016 in New York City. Storytelling in interactive media is such a juicy challenge simply because the power of the narrative is heavily dependent on how the story fits the design structure. With Give Me Your Gun, we practically invented an entirely new category of narrative design in audience driven theater.
IN THE MEDIA
Since premiering at the Games for Change Festival, the experience has received multiple media reviews a few of which are mentioned here:
On a high level, the game has three portals of interaction - player cellphone, projection screen and the stage. The game begins with an opening exchange between Linda (character who audience is role playing as) and Mary (character who's motivations audience is attempting to unravel). At a precise moment, Linda breaks the fourth wall calling the audience to action, activating both the cellphone and the projection screen. Now players can key in questions and vote for other audience member's question. These questions are received by a live back end system, which is a custom tool the team built to manage the entire flow of the experience. The tool provides the following high level functionalities - question deletion, pushing questions to projection screen and pushing questions to the actress' cellphone(which is hidden on set). As top voted questions proceed through the flow of projection screen to actress' cellphone, the actress's would improvise conversation.
If the question hits a designed point that pushes the story forward, the audience 'levels up' unlocking a key fact on the projector and a piece of scripted story(think of it as a live cut scene). The information on the projection screen provides useful information for the audience to generate the right question that unlocks the next achievement. This game flow loops until time has run out or all seven key facts have been unlocked.
Crafting a narrative for this game was not simply a task of writing a powerful story, but more importantly understanding the best narrative fit. This began with identifying a high level goal for the project as this would allow us to drive story decisions in that direction. Considering how politically charged the issue of gun violence can be, we settled on the goal of depicting a meaningful conversation around a polarized issue. On a high level, the narrative design stems from creating scenelets which contain a nugget of intriguing dialog that we want audiences to latch onto. These hidden nuggets are captured and represented as an
"achievement". The information presented in the achievement leads directly to the next so progress is made when the audience solves the puzzle presented in each achievement. However, there were several issues with the first pass of the story.
- Linda’s motivations were unclear and she was coming off as hysterical.
- The story started of at too high an emotional peak instead of building up to it.
- The most powerful moments were when the conversation veered towards subtleties of Mary’s life and how that affected her views. There weren’t enough of these moments.
- The story still didn’t fit well in the design. Connections between achievements were inconsistent, while some were just a reiteration of the previous achievements.