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<h2>An introduction to <em>Gender Reveal Party</em></h2> <p>IMPORTANT GAME STUFF:</p> <p>Player feedback link: https://forms.gle/GpN4nZbeAYYUEwTf7</p> <p>To play the game: <a href="https://tresgrumpy.itch.io/gender-reveal-party" rel="nofollow">https://tresgrumpy.itch.io/gender-reveal-party</a></p> <p>Gameplay guidance: Twine is a text driven HTML game. The game is played by following links. The links appear as a different color than other text. If you get stuck use the sidebar arrows to take you to previous parts of the story. Additionally, because the game is in production and still very much a draft, you will find incomplete areas. But hey, life is incomplete, ergo my game is always going to be in drafting. Just kidding, I just ran out of time because the project was so much bigger than I had initially realized.</p> <p>Follow along with current progress <a href="https://trello.com/invite/b/sqVBh5B3/27d3408ba0013f60e20e8384c55ffc39/gender-reveal-party" rel="nofollow">here</a> </p> <hr> <h2>Current game status:</h2> <p>5/12/2019</p> <p>I have responded to the vast outcry that said "put in a scroll bar!" and lo, I have added a scroll bar! I have also done some other styling work, no changes have been made to the content except the bibliography page.</p> <p>5/8/2019</p> <p>The game is still in a draft format, with act 3 incomplete, and significant formatting issues on certain pages. I do not believe there will be time to rectify this before submission. These are the highest priority for continuing work.</p> <hr> <p>An introduction to the project:</p> <p>When given this assignment I thought back to some of my earlier research, which was situated in the intersection of critical whiteness studies and performance. My academic background is rooted in performance studies, an emergent field which has a great deal in common with digital humanities. Performance studies and digital humanities share a desperation, a grasping need to be recognized as valid, both are massively interdisciplinary, and both teeter over the edge of “doing the work,” which, as we have discussed at length, makes something “non-academic” in the academy. In my work in the crossover between performance studies and whiteness studies, something that became apparent to me was what it was necessary for authors to state who they are. In race studies, this serves to say "I acknowledge and locate my own raced body and the baggage that comes with my lived experience," and in performance studies it works similarly, presenting the argument against literary interpretations of drama that deemphasize the embodied nature of performance. Digital Humanities as a field largely fights against the “embodied” aspects. It is a field that is so driven to be taken seriously that the bulk of digital humanities projects seem to be as depersonalized as possible, because the academy does not like “practice” and practice is the embodiment and enaction of theory. When DH practitioners argue that they are just like the rest of the academy, we would be wise to take them at their words. They are just like the rest of the academy, and the work of the body is thus subordinated to the efforts of the mind.</p> <p>I saw in this divide a gap in the literature, and I wondered how I might be able to explore the idea of embodied personhood, my own personhood, within digital humanities. How could I make my own lived experience “academic?” There has been relatively little writing done about autoethnography and the digital humanities, in fact we read in class the only article I was able to locate. That said, autoethnography is an active, albeit fairly niche field, and it is a method that is included in numerous texts on contemporary sociological research. This sense of a gap is what brought me to my project: an autoethnographic video game (titled Gender Reveal Party), made using Twine, a lightweight program used for creating visual novels.</p> <p>The background for all of this, the thing that makes it, to me digital humanities, is my project’s relationship to autoethnography. At its most basic, autoethnography is “an ethnography of the self or of one’s own group.” Others have said that autoethnography is “an exploration of culture through the lens of the authors own experience” and “a reflexive examination that moves between political and personal.” Autoethnography is concerned with making the personal not political, but academic—that is the core of autoethnography. It is a field of study that says “I am here and I am located within a body that has experiences!” I embarked on this project with the question: how can digital humanities enhance the work of autoethnography? Specifically, how can I use a video game to convey my own autoethnography?</p> <p>Games are in a somewhat fraught role in all academic fields, and digital humanities is no exception. Video games are treated too often as a monolith, as though every game is Halo, and thus unworthy of academic consideration. This has lead to a greater dearth of writing than would be expected from a pastime that 43% of Americans participate in “often or sometimes.” Video games can be many things, but there are many genres of games that are narrative driven, tools for storytelling. Without particularly meaning to, my game came to reflect my grounding in performance studies techniques. Norman Denzin writes, in Performance Autoethnography, that “the essence of theatre, Boal reminds us, is the human being observing itself.” This is not just true of theatre, but of the best narrative storytelling of all types, and this is a field that games fit into a well. Boal's tools, it is worth remembering, are almost all framed as “games.” His massively influential work Games for Actors and Non-Actors has had a lasting influence on the fields of performance studies, ethnography, as well as a vast number of community activist groups that fall outside the academy.</p> <p>Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed techniques are typically taught by doing, as is most theatre and performance. In this way, Gender Reveal Party actually owes a great deal to my background in forum theatre training, which emphasizes that the spectator is in fact the “spect-actor,” someone who has the power and responsibility to intervene in the actions of the performance. The goal of forum theatre is problem solving—for example, if my “problem” was that I was unable to successfully advocate for myself in a conversation with my boss, spect-actors would be encouraged to tap in, and demonstrate how they would try to solve the problem. In forum theatre, there is no correct answer, there is, instead, an exploration of what trying different options could look like.</p> <p>My background in forum theatre, and other theatre of the oppressed techniques, shapes without my knowledge, my notion of what the digital humanities can be. When I initially thought to make an autoethnographic game it was because I felt that I would be a subject for a game that required little research (although now, having read old emails and transcribed my diary, I can say that was not correct), but I realize now that I have set myself up to be a learning experience for the player. While forum theatre is not an easy transition to video games (after all, the options are pre-programmed) the nature of twine games, I think, makes spect-actors of us all. </p>
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