Date of Submission

Spring 2014

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Division of Languages and Literature; Written Arts

Project Advisor 1

Benjamin Hale

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Colette is a work of interactive fiction that questions the role of the reader, and explores the unique ways in which agency, interpersonal relationships, and environmental conditioning can define a person’s identity. The reader is placed in the mind of the titular Colette as she tries to piece together the life she had before a tragic accident robbed her of her memory. The piece purposefully blurs the line between audience and character by giving the reader almost full control over Colette’s actions. By typing simple text commands into the interface, the reader can choose where Colette goes, what she explores, whom she interacts with, and what decisions she makes throughout her journey. The world and narrative of the story change depending on how the reader chooses to interact with the text, making each reader’s experience with the piece truly unique.

Colette was created using Inform 7, a program created by Graham Nelson, Emily Short, and Andrew Hunter that converts natural language into code to create text-based interactive stories. For someone like myself, who is deeply fascinated by interactive stories but has little technical experience in creating them, Inform 7 provides the ideal platform by which to explore the medium.

Colette is a computer-based interactive work reminiscent of text-based adventure games like Zork and Colossal Cave Adventure. Instead of reading the story linearly, the reader is presented with a number of options, and can navigate the text however he or she chooses by typing text commands into the interface. The narrative unfolds as the reader explores the world of the text, and certain aspects of the story will change depending on the decisions that the reader makes. The interface of the system is fairly intuitive, but for the sake of clarity, I’ve included a short tutorial on how to navigate the text.

With Colette, I intend to explore and question the unique space between self and other that a person inhabits while he or she is assuming the role of someone else. The work explores the joy of self-expression, the exhilaration of role-play, the crisis of self-dissociation, and consequences of assuming a false identity. This is not only true of the character in the narrative, but of the reader as well. Just as Colette must decide between being the person she feels she is, and being the person that she was before her amnesia, the reader must decide if he or she will assume the role of Colette, or merely user her as a conduit for his or her own self expression. As Colette discovers, and ultimately questions her identity throughout the narrative, it is my hope that the reader will simultaneously begin to question the role that his or her participation plays in the narrative as well.

The story file for the work (Colette.gblorb) can be downloaded below under "Additional Files." For instructions on how to open and read the file, please refer to the PDF version of this artist statement.

Open Access Agreement

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Colette.gblorb (1261 kB)

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