July 17, 2007
Place-Based Gaming, Romance Interactive Storytelling, and Choose-Your-Own Adventure

Our research manager here at the Convergence Culture Consortium, Dr. Joshua Green, sent me an interesting link to an interactive love story that is being described as akin to the "choose your own adventure" books of times past--except this takes place in actual real space.

The project is called She Loves the Moon, and it is a story told in San Francisco's Mission District through stencils on the sidewalks, connected by arrows. The story starts with two characters located in two different location, one at 16th and Valencia with the stencil "He Leaves His Lonely Apartment," and the other at 21st and Guerrero with a similar stencil. The couple meet through the course of the game and make several decisions, leading to four possible endings, depending on the choices players make.

A collection of writing about the stencil story is available here, and the project already has a Flickr site here.

Of course, an in-person experience cannot be properly collected and recreated through Flickr, but it gives you some idea as to how this "choose-your-own-adventure" story maps out in the Mission district.

Look back to the story I wrote last October about the interactive adventure game "Ghosts of Liberty" here in the Boston area. In that game, explicitly described by its creator as "part interactive theater, part scavenger hunt, part treasure hunt, part choose-your-own-adventure novel":

Teams meet at a bar and pay $60 per group to participate. They are given instructions by an actor and cell phones, with the teams working together to solve mysteries involving Boston historical landmarks in an effort to track down a terrorist, with the help of ghostly voices, a combination of live actors and cell phone messages that leads teams through an adventure that lasts for a few hours.

The intent is to create a game that both engages tourists and natives to interact with the city in a way that stretches far beyond a tour bus, as some of the participants mention in the story.

The game is definitely worth taking a look at and raises a variety of question about new forms of gameplay, the place of a connection to place-based gaming and storytelling in an age which so often touts a freedom from the confines of geography, and the possibilities for romance-based interactive storytelling.