GA Tech

Here are my academic pursuits at Georgia Tech. Of everything here, I am most proud of my thesis. I like to think I have grown some since graduating, and my focus has shifted from digital media design to narrative and experience design, so these projects do not accurately reflect my current abilities or active skill sets.

Master’s Thesis
I went to Georgia Tech to study video games and video game criticism, with a particular emphasis on the ways games tell stories and create meaning for players. My faculty advisers were Ian Bogost, Celia Pearce, and Janet Murray. Elizabeth Losh was an external faculty reviewer. Two years of independent research and writing culminated in my masters thesis: The Interpretive Spiral: An Analytical Rubric for Videogame Interpretation, which presents a methodology for ‘close-reading’  single-player video games.

From August 2010 to May 2012, I served as the lead writer and a senior game designer for Ellis, a historical MMORPG set in New York during the Ellis Island Period (approximately 1810-1950). From the start, Ellis has been designed to avoid the grind of typical MMORPGs, emphasizing emergent gameplay through decision-driven character customization. Instead of being ruled by equipment, players define their identity by which groups they align themselves with, and how they solve problems. The game’s primary form of play was called Social Conflict; a competitive puzzle/strategy game that serves as a metaphor for argument and persuasion. The system is based on a card game with four suits representing different aspects of rhetoric; Ethics, Passion, Logic and deception. Players must either construct a compelling argument or completely destroy their opponent’s case. Both arguments are represented by physical towers of varying colors for each suit of rhetoric.

The Dark Citadel
Ever wonder what it would be like to be an evil overlord bossing around a ton of minions? The Dark Citadel is a story-based strategy game that examines the nefarious side of personnel management. There are 24 unique endings and it takes only seconds to play! To play, download the folder, unzip it, and open the index.html file with any web-browser. Further instructions can be found by reading the included word document “The Dark Citadel Demo Script.” In a rush? You can read all the character profiles, position descriptions and endings which are included in the Scripts folder. The Dark Citadel was created with javascript and jquery. The character art is stolen from Final Fantasy Dissidia and the icons from Chess, with all the love in the world.

The Triangle
The Triangle is an interactive tragedy. Experience the poisonous situation that is a love triangle from three different perspectives. There are three different endings which can be experienced from each of the three characters. To play, download the folder, unzip it, and open the ASMLEngine078.html file in any web-browser. Illustrations done in the style of Randal Monroe’s xkcd are included in the unzipped folder, but they have yet to be implemented in the working code. The Triangle was built using Hartmut Koenitz‘s Advanced Story Builder software (ASB). This one doesn’t really have a happy ending.

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© Hank Whitson 2008-2016