This week, we started our term-long project, known as ‘The Walk’. Over the next 10 weeks, we are to create small stories along a local route using audio, visual and interactive elements.
My planning is already is full swing, with a few inspirations to help me along with this.
Concept: Using Canterbury High Street as the foundation, this is a completely fictional story in a cyberpunk future. There is a protagonist and two other main characters, with a focus on dialogue, world-building and social commentary (discrimination, corruption, morality, etc).
Audio: Ambient music and voice acting will be present. As my version will be dialogue-heavy with three main characters, I need to organize who is voicing what.
Visual: Mostly comprised of portraits for the person currently speaking and static backgrounds. Particular scenes may have special art (such as an establishing shot of the protagonist).
Interactive: Will be put onto a website and/or app. Some scenes will present choices, if the reader wishes to learn more about the world or characters. Some landmarks may be optional.
My inspirations are VA-11 HALL-A and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, both of which provide good examples of setting, dialogue and social commentary. (VA-11 is more light-hearted, while Deus Ex is more serious)
VA-11 HALL-A: Cyberpunk Bartending Action
‘Albert Einstein said, “Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.”
Took me awhile, but I finally see his point.
How often have we chased the dream of progress, only to see that dream perverted?
More often than not, haven’t the machines we built to improve life shattered the lives of millions?
And now we want to turn that dream on ourselves, to fundamentally improve who we are.
Experience has shown me how dangerous that can be.‘
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Additionally, we learnt about genre conventions and studied several genres to get a grasp of this. Horror, Crime, Science Fiction and Travel Writing. A genre convention is a trope that is commonly seen, but not on the level of a cliché. They are the foundations of that genre, and usually how that genre was created in the first place.
As this walk can encompass every aspect of fiction and non-fiction, it is crucial to have a set genre (or genres) for the pieces written. A convention can range from potential themes to the use of language, all of which is shaped by the genre. Horror is known for dark tones and digging deep into the human psyche, while crime is known for being a typically masculine genre with a primarily male cast and the famous ‘femme fatale’ trope.
Elaborating more on crime, here is one slide from a presentation on the crime fiction genre. The presentation can be found here.
As a professional example of the crime genre, it can actually be found in several spin-offs from the Batman comic books, focusing on the GCPD (Gotham City Police Department). Here is one of the many pages.
(Dixon, Chuck. ‘Gordon’s Law, Volume 1, #1’ (1996) Batman: Gordon’s Law, December 1996, Unknown Page.)
Many tropes can be seen in this single page. The old gruff commissioner, heavy rain, the trenchcoat, an assistant/lackey behind him and the serious no-nonsense dialogue aimed at a male audience.
Further research into this sub-series of comic books shows a deviation from standard crime tropes, however. In Gotham Central, the main protagonist is Renee Montoya, a latina woman who is later outed to be a lesbian. The comic itself is reported to have many dark and mature themes, following the foundations of the crime genre but being able to move away and have its own identity.
This is fascinating to me, and is actually in line with the Cyberpunk genre, as that itself is a gritty mixture of science-fiction and crime, coining the term ‘Neo Noir’. Issues such as discrimination, corruption and the fallacies of humanity are all the foundations of Cyberpunk, as well as crime fiction.