For What We Are: An Interactive Experience with a Bifurcated Perspective
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Despite its abstract nature, Blind Vaysha was nominated for an Oscar, even when competing Disney short Inner Workings, produced on a much higher budget, was not (Victoria, 2017). Blind Vaysha told the story of a young girl, Vaysha, who saw the past in one eye, the future in the other, and therefore struggled to live in the present (Bertrand & Ushev, 2016). At multiple times throughout the short, the screen would be split between these two views, each ‘eye’ portraying its own perception of Vaysha’s reality. Perhaps it was the novelty of seeing two worlds at once, but perhaps it was also the sensation of being placed in a unique perspective different from that of our own, that made this short so successful. Another piece of media that bifurcates the screen in a similar way is Google Play Music’s Through the Dark, an interactive visual piece of a song by the same name (n.d.). It tells the story of the songwriter’s son undergoing leukemia treatment, showing a clear distinction between a light and dark perception of the story that can be manipulated by the viewer (Stewart 2016). Unlike Blind Vaysha, this case provided a sense of agency to the viewer, to the extent that one could control what they saw, but not influence the story or results in any way. According to Lebowitz and Klug (2011), the power to “change events and explore different possible outcomes” causes the bond between the player and the character to strengthen. Taking those words into consideration, perhaps this concept of a bifurcated perspective could be pushed further into the realm of interactivity. This of course, urges the question: when provided with the ability to interact with the story itself, does a bifurcated perspective engage the viewer, or confuse them as they attempt to navigate the screen? Just as Lebowitz and Klug suggested, this study predicts that by introducing the power of choice to the player when presented with a bifurcated perspective, the bond between the player and character will strengthen, and engage the player further in this new kind of experience. This project is the development and creation of an interactive story using a method where the user’s screen is bifurcated into two related but differing perspectives of the same environment. If successful, Ushev’s concept of splitting the screen into two different perspectives of the same world will be used to achieve a new kind of experience that contributes to the field of interactive media. Storytelling is constantly evolving as technology does, and it is always important to find new ways to draw in one’s audience and continue innovating new techniques. The study design consists of three parts: two tests during the development of the experience, followed by the creation of a final experience. At each stage of testing, participants will be asked to play through the experience(s), before answering a brief questionnaire intended to measure their engagement with the experience. The first two tests would feature two versions of the experience each, with the initial test exploring two methods of bifurcating the screen, and the second test’s versions implementing further refinements of whichever method proved more successful in the initial test. Results from the first two tests would influence the experience’s overall design. This would result in the development of a complete, web-published experience. In the story used for the experience in this research, the main character, Avery, sees the world as it is in one eye, and the truth behind people in the other. The title For What We Are acts as a play on the phrase ‘seeing people for who they really are’. These will be web-based experiences, made with the use of three.js, a library for WebGL graphics. WebGL was also used in Google Play Music’s Through the Dark and makes for an easily accessible experience that will be easy to implement into this research. For the sake of the tests, these experiences will each consist of the same first ‘day’ of what will be the final published story, which spans over seven story days.
Brown, Sarah Anne (2018). For What We Are: An Interactive Experience with a Bifurcated Perspective. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from