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RCID

Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design

A Dissertation Prospectus
by Lauren Woolbright

Becoming Ourselves:
Breaking Archetypes Through
Feminist Approaches to Video Game Design

Committee:
Dr. Jan Holmevik, Department of English. Chair
Dr. Kim Manganelli, Department of English
Dr. Beth Lauritis, Department of Art
Dr. Andrew Hurley, Department of Food, Nutrition
and Packaging Science
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Abstract

Lack of diversity in video games and the game industry warrants an inclu-
sive, feminist approach to game design. Producing a feminist video game as a core
component of my dissertation will impact rhetorical, literary, game, and feminist
studies, emphasizing the imperative to embrace electrate modes of being.

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Statement of Research Issues and Questions

The game industry is changing. This has always been true because of developments in tech-
nologies, but since the advent of Nintendo’s Wii and the ever-widening appeal of casual games,
video games have become a genre that can reach any demographic. With a more diverse audience
of gamers (whether casual players of Bejeweled and Words With Friends or hard core players of Elder
Scrolls Online and Dark Souls II), more people are taking an interest in game design and content.
One prominent example is culture critic Anita Sarkeesian. Having established her YouTube
channel, Feminist Frequency, and her series Tropes vs. Women as a must-see for feminist critiques
of popular media, Sarkeesian pitched a new project on Kickstarter.com in 2012, Tropes vs. Women
in Video Games, which would analyze major problems with representations of women in games.
She didn’t anticipate the magnitude of negative response she would get from the gaming communi-
ty, people who felt an outsider—an academic—had encroached on their territory and told them they
were wrong. Soon, Sarkeesian got funding for her project, did a TED Talk, and inspired conversa-
tion across the internet about feminism and video games.
There is more at stake here than merely an increase in interest in girls and games. Game
designers need to recognize that stories about hyper sexualized heroes and heroines do not speak
to everyone—in fact they speak only to a slim minority. In her book Rise of the Video Game Zinesters,
Anna Anthropy writes, “As a queer woman in 2012, in a culture pervaded by video games . . . I
have to strain to find any game that’s about a queer woman, to find any game that resembles my
own experience” (Anthropy, ch.1). Everyone should be making games, she says. The resulting diver-
sity will mean there is always more than one dominant narrative describing what is “beautiful” or
“right,” and conversely “evil.”
Further, the ethos of the feminist gamer is at issue (please note that men ought to be femi-
nist gamers, too). Fighting rampant harassment in online gaming communities, stereotypes about
“casual” gamers, and accusations of overly active emotions, “care bear” gaming style, and general
oversensitivity and whininess, the female gamer has yet to be fully realized, but this project will
help develop what it might mean to be a feminist gamer. What does it mean to be a woman in
digital culture—a woman who games—and how do games shape that becoming?
Greg Ulmer has defined our general movement from print to digital culture as a move from
literacy to electracy, and electracy privileges play above truth and morality, which are literate and
oral paradigms. We participate in electracy every day by working, playing, and socializing online.
While games are at the forefront of electrate being, they are particularly narrow in terms of story-
telling, and what’s more: in game design, narrative has tended to take a back seat to game play and
mechanics because of what the game industry assumes players want. As in other genres, but per-
haps more so, game writing typically builds stories on familiar tropes from literature and symbol-
ism from well-known sources such as Christianity or Eastern philosophy. Games rely on archetypes
that stereotype and position players in particular kinds of gender roles, racial roles, and accepted
sexualities. Stereotypes don’t make anyone think and can be quite damaging, and empowering the
woman or the minority character, making them “strong” and giving them lots of positive traits,
while “good,” I suppose, does not make them strong characters in a narrative sense: they need to
be round, they need to be complicated, they need to be human.
Games have the potential for much richer storytelling and character development, and rather

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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Figure 1: Tropes v. Women in Video Games. Source: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/566429325/tropes-vs-


women-in-video-games

than struggling against or merely augmenting game mechanics as many have claimed, narrative
themes can actually be communicated through mechanics just as much as through story. Although
we are all thrown (Heidegger’s term) into our subject positions, we do not have to simply accept
them. Games can empower us, can promote awareness of the positions we are in, the ones we take
for granted, and further, electracy provides a possible awakening through experiential learning
and play, which can mean breaking out of those accepted norms to facilitate more meaningful and
authentic engagement with ourselves, others, and the world.
My conjecture, then, is that not only should everyone be playing games, feminist gamers in
particular should be making games. Feminist scholars in particular ought to do so to explore the
issues they care about. Scholars should be interested in games not only for development of elec-
trate self-awareness, but also for their value in creating transmedia pedagogies, which is the future
of humanities learning. By going beyond traditional literate genres and looking to film, television,
the blogosphere, social media, and most importantly video games in the classroom, professors
can foster student engagement and deeper understanding of the course material, as themes cross
boundaries and transgress into areas that require student participation, that operate as experiences,
rather than just content to passively absorb. This is the power of electracy. This is the power of

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Becoming Ourselves

Figure 2: A Closed World screenshot. Source: http://blog.ocad.ca/wordpress/digf6b08-fw2011-01/2012/02/final-proj-


ect-lynn-ridley-cathy-fang-shanyi/?doing_wp_cron=1399396328.0057909488677978515625

video games.
To help work through these issues and to contribute to, rather than simply criticizing, the
game industry, I will design a video game that disturbs accepted modes of scholarship in studies of
gender, race and ethnicity, and folklore and contributes to all of these fields. Further, I will com-
pose several chapters that fully explain the scholarly issues at stake here; however, in keeping with
my focus on electrate being, I will present the chapters in a born-digital format as a free, download-
able app including all the content, media, and the game itself. Not only will the content of the
dissertation—including the game itself—be accessible to anyone with a mobile device or computer,
but so will the game engine that I used to create the game, meaning others can easily build games
of their own—exactly the ethic I want to spread.

The Game

The game is based on the Victorian novel The Blood of the Vampire by Florence Marryat, which
features a mixed race, female protagonist, Harriet Brandt—a young Caribbean mulatta, the daugh-
ter of a voodoo priestess and a mad scientist—as she enters European society. But Harriet has a ter-
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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Figure 3: Victorian Mulatta. Source: https://conchigliadivenere.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/

rible power: unbeknownst to her, she sucks the life force out of anyone she loves. She inadvertently
kills several characters before Dr. Phillips reveals that her monstrosity is a result of the vile deeds
and miscegenation of her parents. As the novel’s representative of general Victorian patriarchal
attitudes, he forces her into the subject position of “monster,” a position she eventually accepts,
believing that she is the monster everyone says she is.
I am deeply bothered by this ending for Harriet. She is both an empowered woman and
completely innocent; she does not realize that she has a destructive power, and she never uses it
knowingly. Obviously, the novel is steeped in sexist and racist themes inherent to Victorian society.
Even if Marryat writes Harriet sympathetically, she still feels she had to kill Harriet off in the end
because of the social pressures of being a woman writer (or so I speculate); even without the vam-
pirism, Harriet is a financially independent and sexually active mixed race woman, and as such, she
simply cannot be part of English society. As such, it doesn’t matter if her flaws are not her fault.
For Harriet to have her own agency, she needs to be able to choose her fate—or in my case, the
player decides.
The game will open with a brief synopsis of the novel via voice over and art followed by the
image of the suicide note written in Harriet’s hand. The player awakens in a fancy hotel room hav-
ing failed the attempted suicide and will play through Harriet’s struggle to come to terms with what
she is. Harriet finds herself in an in-between spirit world common to Catholic and other religious
ideologies and has a period of a couple days to complete her business and “move on.” At first, she

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Becoming Ourselves

Figure 4: London After Midnight by northern sun on Deviantart.com. Source: http://www.deviantart.com/art/Lon-


don-After-Midnight-71961668
can only interact with other spirits, though she can see and hear everything in the living world. For
the first time, she can see her power as it happens. The player can choose to learn to use it at will,
weakening or protecting others. Based on the player’s behavior toward the spirits, Harriet will have
certain abilities when she awakens into her body again in the game’s final chapter. She can then
go about her life or seek resolution with the other characters. Depending on the player’s choices,
Harriet will end up rejecting her monstrosity and choosing to die, fully embracing her monstrosity
and wreaking vengeance on those who wronged her, or learning to control her power so she can
live with it. Based on how the player chooses to have Harriet behave, the player will come to one of
six possible endings, and with the rhetorical and literary foundations behind the game, there will
be plenty worth thinking about beyond the time it takes to play it.

Pedagogical Relevance

Games have applications beyond entertainment and leisure. Transmedia courses develop ideas
across media and encourage students to look beyond a single genre for the themes and tropes they
are used to finding only in literature (due to our slow-to-change educational hierarchy). In contrast
to other forms of media, games allow reader/players to experience the process of becoming, which
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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

is something that cannot be taught, but only experienced and discussed. I mean this game to be
useful in a classroom setting, whether in a literature class where students have read the novel before
playing and are interested in genre, character development, plot, and conventions of the time peri-
od, or in a writing course in which students’ main concerns are rhetorical techniques of persuasion
and the potential messages a piece of media conveys.

Review of Scholarship

Game studies traces its lineage long before the invention of video games to the games of the
ancient world, but games scholars claim it really begins with one of the founding fathers of the
discipline of game studies, Johan Huizinga and his 1938 work Homo Ludens. Framing the human
as “the player,” the one who plays of necessity, plays without thinking about it, plays to stave off
boredom (Wark; Heidegger) and plays as an important form of social interaction, Huizinga lays
the groundwork for the claims game studies scholars have made since. To understand video games,
we must understand play and its importance in human development, psychology, societies, and
wellbeing.
Huizinga sparked a number of theories that have become household words for game scholars,
most notably “ludology” and the “magic circle.” Ludology is simply the study of play, and game
scholars who identify as ludologists today privilege the ludic elements of games (they generally
mean the mechanics) over other components like character development and story. The magic
circle is the widely contested claim that game realities can exist happily isolated from out-of-game
realities. Gamers may at times like to believe that this could be the case, that their in-game actions
don’t have real-life repercussions, but the “truth of the matter” is that every experience affects and
changes us, and even small things can have a significant impression on a person’s worldview, what
they perceive to be ethical or not, and how they choose to comport themselves toward others in
out-of-game life.
James Paul Gee writes extensively about video games, arguing that they could serve as a new
model for education because of their emphasis on hard work, cooperation, learning through per-
sonal experience, and engagement in story and content (What Video Games Have to Teach Us About
Learning and Literacy). Though many games studies scholars dismiss Gee and his advocacy of gam-
ification (which, if shallow and ill-conceived, can be harmful), his writings are widely read outside
of game studies, so his work has dramatically increased its visibility, and his advocacy has meant
that many non-gamers have had to give games a second look—definitely good for games and game
studies.
Games lend themselves to Heideggerian analysis in several ways, perhaps the most obvious
of which is the concept of worldhood, particularly with regards to “thrownness,” as game creation
is really world creation, the design of spaces (Jenkins). In a game, the player is “thrown” into a
world—a context, a language, a code—that is beyond their control, yet which they can affect and
change, depending on the limitations and exigencies of that world. Heidegger’s thoughts on be-
ing—Dasein—also come into play as we develop in-game avatars to represent ourselves. I will move
from these concepts into the more fluid philosophies of becoming, which Greg Ulmer and Ken-
neth Burke espouse. Their work will help situate game being in an electrate context and will allow
me to make claims about what the idea of becoming can accomplish both in games and gamers.

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Figure 5: Girls and Video Games by Irene Martini on Deviantart.com. Source: http://irenemartini.deviantart.com/
art/Girls-and-Videogames-355442090

Part of my concern in all this relates to ethics: what would an ethical depiction of a person
be? If a character is flat, there is nothing to learn from them, so game designers and writers should
strive to write interesting characters with flaws and depth. Once ethics is established via Sicart in
particular, I mean to consider good reasons for exploring a lack of ethics through video games. Af-
ter all, we can “safely” explore new modes of thinking, acting, and being through video games and
experience consequences that don’t (usually) involve out-of-game injury, physical or psychological.
Wark devotes an entire chapter in Gamer Theory to boredom, claiming that we play in the first place
because we are bored, but we are also bored while playing, which is why gamers generally don’t take
long to begin experimenting with character concepts or interactions with game environments. This
constitutes a potentially unethical situation (by generally accepted ethical standards—not Sicart’s);
often players will begin a game as a morally “good” character, but boredom might induce them to
try out the “bad” aspects of the game, to act ambiguously or even evilly, to kill, steal, destroy, or
in a game like World of Warcraft, to shamelessly massacre “n00bs” and camp spawn points—which
means greater affect on and interaction with other players than on the game itself. Regarding ethics
in games, Holmevik asserts, “Video games, I believe, do not necessarily impose an encoded eth-
ics on players. Players, to a large extent, charge the game with their own ethics through the act of
playing” (Holmevik, ch.3). WoW both allows for player agency (in player-on-player interaction) and
either gently or forcefully imposes an ethics or lack of ethics on players (in quest-lines and plot).
There is only so much choice inherent in the game.

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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Henry Jenkins frames the conversations that have been going on in game studies in terms of
their emphasis on one element or other of games as most crucial. Narratologists favor a game’s sto-
ry elements over other considerations like mechanics, game-play, and player freedom while ludolo-
gists insist that games can do so much more than tell good stories. Jenkins seems to want everyone
to just get along, beginning his essay with a list of things most game studies scholars can agree on
before moving into his own argument.
A student of Aarseth’s, Gonzalo Frasca, has a blog called Ludology in which he outlines this
a bit more, explaining that a number of game scholars have used existing methodologies for un-
derstanding video games: “Brenda Laurel’s work is based on drama, Janet Murray’s on storytelling,
drama, and narrative, and Lev Manovich’s on film” (ludology.org). All these scholars are examples
of narratologists. I agree with Frasca that each of these has its merits, but each can only go so far
with games, as these approaches are not really about games, but focus on forcing them into a lens
that is already familiar. We can learn plenty from this approach, but we can never understand
games as games without breaking out of our training and taking other elements into account.

Gender Studies

To gain a better understanding of the issues with gender at play in video games, I will have to
cover the recent history of feminism, particularly as it relates to literature, since interpretation tech-
niques for reading/playing video games can be similarly applied (though of course this is not the
only way to approach games, nor is it the only approach I will be using). I am particularly interested
in the inclusive ethic found in some feminisms such as feminist ecocriticism, as these embody my
goals of inclusivity in game design and gamer culture.
Foundational texts for me will be Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic and their
Norton anthology, Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism Reader, which includes texts by a number of
important writers. Several of Judith Butler’s works are important for this project, particularly Bodies
That Matter and Gender Trouble. Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender will help me explain gender as
a social construction, which will help support my claims about what is going on with gender in
games: in general, it involves a series of generalizations, stereotypes, and misrepresentations which
go beyond mere body image and into what characters are capable of or expected to do according to
their gender and the proscribed roles therein.
To ground understanding of the game’s Victorian setting, I have Showalter’s Sexual Anarchy
and Dijkstra’s Idols of Perversity, which discusses how, to the Victorians, vampirism was real in a way.
Women’s sexuality was considered to have the potential to drain a man’s vitality away and weaken
him, so a woman with an “overactive” sex drive was considered dangerous and would likely be med-
icated.
Representations of race are generally no better in games. Speaking generally, they are often
either flat stereotypes or incidental and short in duration with some notable exceptions (just as
there are exceptions to the problematic portrayals of gender in games). Lisa Nakamura takes care
in her essay on World of Warcraft and her book Race After the Internet to explain the concept of
microracism and its impact on all internet-users, though particularly on those most often on the
receiving end of such racism. Her work is most applicable to online gaming communities and
pro-gaming leagues and corroborates much of the work being done on harassment of women and

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Becoming Ourselves

Figure 6: Victorian Hysteric. Source: http://brontehoroine.wordpress.com/2011/08/16/the-history-of-hysteria/

minorities in online environments and the special level of intensity that comes along with coopera-
tive online gaming.
Beyond establishing what has been going on in feminism in general, I have an even greater
responsibility to investigate and cover black feminism, which has established itself with greater
attention to the intersections and connections between race, class, and gender rather than focusing
merely on gender considerations—the critique that led black women to assert their own feminism.
They—rightfully—felt that mainstream feminism had no place for them and was doing nothing to
consider the differences in their experience of patriarchy.
The game I am designing features a mixed race woman protagonist from a slave plantation
in the Caribbean, so understanding the background and context of black feminism as well as its
tenets will be vital for my understanding of the character I will be trying to write. Texts that will
be important for this work include, but are not limited to Angela Davis’s Women Race & Class
and Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. Women Race & Class opens with a history of black women
in America beginning in slavery. Davis outlines the various roles slave women found themselves
thrust into—roles that white women never had to face, nor deal with critically later. Davis does a
nice job of keeping white women’s roles in the context of slavery in view because they were not al-
ways pleasant either, though of course they afforded a degree of power no black woman at the time
could boast of. Audre Lorde’s essays collected in the volume Sister Outsider and bell hooks’s Ain’t

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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Figure 7: Goddess Hel from Norse Mythology. Source: http://kitschywitche.thoughts.com/posts/goddess-hel

I a Woman contribute more to the black feminism discussion. Lisa Nakamura’s edited collection
Race After the Internet helps illustrate a sense of how race has changed with technology beyond what
black feminists offer.
A number of online sources including Blackmon’s Purdue blog Not Your Mama’s Gamer, Penny
Arcade’s Extra Credits, and Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency, contribute to this conversation as
well.

Archetypes

I have been studying female archetypes beginning with the, perhaps inadvertently, sexist Jo-
seph Campbell and The Hero of a Thousand Faces moving on to Carl Jung’s work, which has quite a
bit more flexibility. But to really get a sense of what a female hero can do—what heroines have been
doing in myth and legend for thousands of years, but have been weakened and altered by patriar-
chy (Hans Christian Andersen and Disney)—I have been reading old tales from across the world
and recent critiques that seek to rehabilitate the female heroine and reaffirm all she has stood for.
The Female Hero in Folklore and Legend, which includes analyses of tales from around the
world, and the more focused The Female Hero in American and British Literature are foundational for
feminist folklore studies. Clarissa Pinkola Estes zeroes in on the wild woman archetype in particu-
lar in Women Who Run With Wolves and expands her reading of the crone in particular in The Power

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of the Crone, helping illustrate connections between women and the natural world and glorifying
women in their acceptance of themselves, their sexuality, and their power.
Most importantly for me is Valerie Estelle Frankel’s From Girl to Goddess: The Heroines Journey
through Myth and Legend. After analyzing Campbell and Jung, Frankel proposes her own set of
archetypes. Hers follows the phases of the moon, a fitting framework for femininity, and establishes
the different types corresponding to different phases. While her work provides a rich and useful
framework for the journey of the female hero through life and through narrative, I still mean to try
to dismantle or at least play with the archetypes she offers by exploring the blurry line between the
female hero and the female monster and the role society plays in defining each.
The literature, games, and other media I have included provide examples of archetypes that
aid, complicate, or obstruct understanding of self in an electrate context. I have played a wide vari-
ety of games to showcase what is possible to accomplish with game mechanics so that my game can
be as successful as possible theoretically, aesthetically, and ludically.

Significance of Research

There are many reasons to undertake a non-traditional dissertation project, both for myself
and for the sake of progress in the humanities in general. For myself, I cannot be satisfied with sim-
ply adding yet another written piece of analysis and criticism to the world without trying to accom-
plish the thing I have been critical of the game industry—and other scholars—failing to do. I have to
make something, put myself out there for criticism, constructive and otherwise, and be open to the
results I see and the feedback I get from players and students alike. By putting my own game out
into the world, I hope to build an ethos as a designer as well as a theorist, as a scholar who has the
ability for both and the skills to realize the work I imagine.
Speaking to cultural norms in academe, new media studies has found its way into the human-
ities across its various disciplines in crucial ways, ways that can no longer be ignored in deference to
traditional models and norms in higher education. Digital humanities are on the rise, and there is
more potential here than simply creating a robust archive of readily available literary and historical
works. Scholars composing in digital spaces and imagining the potential of multimodal composi-
tion for scholarly expression are things the academy must begin to accept as and integrate into their
standards and practices. Otherwise, we risk stagnation and obsolescence, becoming increasingly
out-of-touch with our students, forcing on them modes that no longer make sense, which can only
serve to alienate them still further from their education. Such a thing could only hurt our society.
As this project will take on a creative component by offering an actual game prototype as part
of the dissertation, it constitutes a departure from what the academy is generally used to accepting
as satisfactory proof of rigor and readiness for graduation. Some might ask why not simply offer
challenging and unique ideas in the written form of traditional scholarship? Why design a game,
and is that really scholarship? Even scholarship presented in a digital formats like HTML tend to
be closer to traditional standards than this game, which cannot be expressed in pure writing, but
will involve a number of the components—art, code, individual player choice and experience—none
of which can be presented to the grad school or a publisher as a manuscript. But I maintain that
it is not enough for feminist players to praise the great and critique the flawed media in the world,
or even to question, explore, and interpret what these might offer us as scholars, as professors, and

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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Figure 8: Heroines of Dragon’s Crown, 2013. Source: http://www.usgamer.net/articles/dragons-crown-review-ps-vita

as educational institutions. Games are more than just an escape from real-life problems into other
modes of being; like all other media, they are political spaces as well. If we do not also create games
we cannot fully realize their potential, nor can we truly understand them. If we do commit to steep-
ing ourselves in meaningful play, we have found our way to the electrate state of becoming, which
never rests and always challenges norms, which is the basis of a healthy society.

Methodology

The game is the centerpiece to this project, so its production is key to my success. I have writ-
ten the game content in outline form, so the next step is to fully flesh it out with all the dialogue
and then to storyboard with concept art, which I will develop using Adobe Creative Cloud pro-
grams.
I have been working with three undergraduate students in Dr. Roy Pargas’s Android apps
course at Clemson University, and they have developed a game engine that will support a text-
based version of the game, developed in the style of The Walking Dead video games. The engine
tracks and records the player’s choices and aggregates the data with all the other people who have
played the game so players can see the most popular decisions compared with their own. This is
useful partly for interest’s sake to see what choices people are making as they play, but it also serves
an important purpose for the individual player’s experience: certain choices foreclose or open up
future possibilities, and some can affect how other characters in the game respond to the player.
I also plan to collaborate with an MFA student from the Digital Production Arts program
in the School of Computing at Clemson to see what we might do to take the game beyond just a

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Becoming Ourselves

Figure 9: Art by Lezley Saar, “The Madwoman in the Attic: The Female Gothic in 19th Century Literature. Source:
http://www.artweek.com/art-events/lezley-saar-%E2%80%93-%E2%80%9Cmadwoman-attic-female-gothic-19th-centu-
ry-literature%E2%80%9D

text-based choose-your-own-adventure style with static art. We may be able to digitally animate the
game, if that art style proves aesthetically appropriate for its feel and mood.
While it would certainly be innovative for the graduate school to accept a digital project on
its own merit as satisfactory for approval for graduation, this is not yet the case. So along with the
game itself, I am writing four chapters developing the scholarship I am producing in the game,
including connections and advancements in gender, race, folklore, literary, and rhetorical studies,
all with respect to games. My methodologies here are typical of humanities study: rigorous research
in the form of reading and writing about the content, but my project adds gameplay as an element
of research. I am playing a wide variety of popular, indie, and app-style games to get a feel for what
is possible in terms of design and also to analyze games’ content from the various perspectives I am
employing.
But I won’t stop there. Just because I am developing traditional-style written arguments does
not mean they must be presented this way. I envision the chapters presented digitally in app form.
It would be downloadable for free and would support the inclusion of composition through imag-
es, videos, and sound as well as text. It will truly be a born-digital dissertation.

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Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Tentative Organization

Chapter 1: Introduction

Purpose: To introduce the project and its significance to the fields of rhetoric, game studies,
literary studies, and feminist theory. To discuss the importance of the born-digital dissertation
project.

Chapter 2: Game Dasein

Purpose: To introduce conventions in video game design and the games industry. To explore
how game being (Heidegger) and electrate becoming (Ulmer; Burke) affects “real life” being and
vice versa. To establish the ways women and race have been (mis)represented in games as well as
how women and feminist theory fit into gaming culture. To advance meaningful change through a
proposal of feminist approaches to game design.

Chapter 3: Feminist Gaming: It’s Not Just for Girls

Purpose: To provide a literature review, establishing the current conversations in game design
with regards to feminism and female presence and contribution to gaming communities and the
game industry. To establish a definition (with attention to the benefits of disrupting definitions in
general) of feminist gaming and feminist game design. To discuss the potentials of a more diverse,
equitable approach to game design and what opening up game design to the masses will mean to
game studies, rhetorics, gaming communities, and electrate identity formation in general. To gener-
ate discussion of the ethics involved in these issues.

Chapter 4: Trappings of the Trickster

Purpose: To discuss various sets of tropes of female characters, using established scholarship
in folklore, literature, literary theory, and rhetorical theory as grounds. To emphasize feminist and
global approaches to depictions of women and highlight the crone and the trickster. To explore
how such tropes might enrich (or how they might already impact) female characters in video games.
To consider the potential of this project for literature and writing classrooms focused on a transme-
dia approach to pedagogy.

Chapter 5: Becoming Harriet: An Hysteric(al) Game Protagonist

Purpose: To introduce the game itself. Embedded in my game’s design, players will find con-
nections to the theories and major figures I have referenced in the dissertation chapters. Since the
game is designed as an app, selecting certain options during game play will link to pages providing
a closer look at the theories grounding the game; for example, choosing to read a book on a table
in the game will show players a relevant quotation. This will be accomplished delicately so as not to

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jar the player out of the game world, but to stir their sense that there is more here than merely the
traditional game experience of escape from reality.

Chapter 6: Conclusion

Purpose: To reiterate the purpose and importance of the project and my approaches to it. To
emphasize the game’s foundations in theory and its scholarly and ludic motivations with commen-
tary on its applicability in the classroom. To discuss the necessity of ideological development in
educational institutions still requiring outdated forms of composition and expression with particu-
lar attention to the benefits of moving fully into electracy.

Conclusions

Given the general lack of diversity in the games industry—even the indie market—and the
games it produces, the message sent to players is an old one: only certain subject positions matter,
and if the player does not occupy one of those, they must accept whatever treatment they happen
to receive via in-game content and out-of-game interaction in the gaming community. In an elec-
trate context, this is simply inexcusable, as technologies and widespread access offer opportunities
for complex identity formation beyond what was possible in oral and literate societies.
Some feminisms have traditionally embraced inclusivity across racial, socio-economic, nation-
al, and gender borders in the interest of fostering a stronger sense of global and local communities.
This approach to scholarship is fruitful in imagining what affects might come of inclusive game
design and diversity among game designers.
The game does more than expand scholarly thought across the disciplines I have mentioned; it
also calls for pedagogical innovation, for the implementation of transmedia approaches to human-
ities courses that mean deeper engagement with all course content from students and the assertion
of ethics of becoming, inclusion, and diversity as part of electrate identity creation, which have
implications well beyond the classroom. These methodologies will continue to affect students well
after they have completed their coursework and started new jobs and families. It may be idealistic,
but reimagining the structure of institutional education with these themes in mind could make
way for major positive developments in educational philosophy and structure in the future.

17
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Preliminary Bibliographies and Games Played.

Primary Field: Rhetorics of Game Design/Dasein

Aarseth, Espen. Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature.

---. “Define Real, Moron!: Some Remarks on Game Ontologies.” DIAGREC Keynote Lec-
tures, 2009/10. Eds. Stephen Gunzel, Michael Liebe, and Dieter Merach. Potsdam: UP, 2011. 50-
69.

---. “Quest Games as Post-Narrative Discourse.” Narrative Across Media. Ed. Marie-Laure
Ryan. Lincoln, NE: U Nebraska P, 2004. Print.

Alex. “Feminism and Video Games 101: Shooting Female Enemies Isn’t Icky.” The Border House
Blog. 12 March 2010. Web. 3 May 2014.

Anthropy, Anna. Rise of the Video Game Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers,
Drop-Outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back An Art Form. New York: Seven
Stories Press, 2012. Kindle.

Bates, Laura. “Art imitating life: How sexism in video games mirrors real-life gender imbalance”.
The Independent.com. 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 15 April 2013.

Bell, Mark W. “Toward a Definition of Virtual Worlds”. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research. 1:1 (July
2008) Web. 7 Nov 2012.

Bissell, Tom. Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter. New York: Vintage Books, 2010. Print.

Blackmon, Samantha. Not Your Mama’s Gamer. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Bogost, Ian. Alien Phenomenology. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 2012. Print.

---. How To Do Things With Video Games. Minneapolis: U Minnesota P, 2011. Print.

---. Persuasive Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2007. Print.

Bowers, C.A. Let Them Eat Data: How Computers Affect Education, Cultural Diversity, and the Pros-
pects of Ecological Sustainability. Athens, GA: Georgia UP, 2000. Print.

Chen, Mark. Leet N00bs: The Life and Death of an Expert Player Group in World of Warcraft. New York:
Peter Lang Press, 2012. Print.

Chipman, Bob “MovieBob”. “The Big Picture: Gender Games”. The Escapist Magazine. 27 Sept.
18
Becoming Ourselves

2011. Web. 22 April 2013.

Consalvo, Mia. “Confronting Toxic Gamer Culture: A Challenge for Feminist Game Studies
Scholars.” ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. 2012. Web. 1 May 2014.

Costikyan, Greg. Uncertainty in Games. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. Print.

Derrida, Jacques. Spurs: Nietzsche’s Styles. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1979. Print.

Digital Culture, Play, and Identity: A World of Warcraft Reader. Eds. Hilde G. Corneliussen and Jill
Walker Rettberg. MIT UP, 2008. Kindle.

Dyer-Witheford, Nick and Grieg de Peuter. Games of Empire: Global Capitalism and Video Games.
Minneapolis, MN: U Minneapolis P, 2009. Print.

Extra Credits. Penny Arcade TV. 2014. Web. 14 Feb. 2014.

Fletcher, James. “Sexual harassment in the world of video games”. BBC News Magazine. 3 June
2012. Web. 20 April 2013.

Frasca, Gonzalo. Ludology.org. 24 March 2011. Web 14 Feb. 2014.

Galloway, Alexander. Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 2006.
Print.

“Guns, Girls, and Games”. Assignment. BBC World Service. 2 June 2012. Web. 20 April 2013.

Haynes, Cynthia. “End of Game Content: Theory-crafting at the End of Play.” Forthcoming.

---. “Writing Offshore: The Disappearing Coastline of Composition Theory.” JAC (2003):
667-724. JSTOR. Print.

Heidegger, Martin. Being and Time. Trans. John McQuarrie and Edward Robinson. New York:
Harper and Row, 1962. Print.

---. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Trans. William McNeill
and Micholas Walker. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 1995. Print.

Holmevik, Jan Rune. Inter/vention: Free Play in the Age of Electracy. MIT UP, 2011. Kindle.

Holmevik, Jan and Cynthia Haynes. “Gaming Across the Curriculum.” Currents in Electronic Liter-
acy. 2010. Web. 1 May 2014.

Huizinga, Johan. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture. Roy Publishers, 1950. Kindle.
19
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Jenkins, Henry. “Game Design as Narrative Architecture.” Computer 44 (2004): s3. Print.

---. “Games, the New Lively Art.” Handbook of computer game studies (2005): 175-192.

Juul, Jesper. The Art of Failure: An Essay on the Pain of Playing Video Games. MIT Press, 2013. Print.

---. A Casual Revolution: Reinventing Video Games and Their Players. MIT Press, 2010. Print.

---. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. MIT Press, 2005. Print.

Kaldera, Raven. The Ethical Psychic Vampire, 2nd ed. Hubbardston, MA: Ellhorn Press, 2008. Print.

McGonigal, Jane. Reality is Broken. London: Penguin, 2011. Print.

Nakamura, Lisa. “Race and Identity in Digital Media”. Mass Media and Society, 5th ed. Ed. James
Curran. 2010. Print.

Nakamura, Lisa and Peter A. Chow-White, eds. Race After the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2012.
Print.

NPR Staff. “Online Harassment Gets Real for Female Gamers”. NPR.org. 8 August 2012. Web. 20
April 2013.

Paul, Christopher A. Wordplay and the Discourse of Video Games: Analyzing Words, Design, and Play.

Ray, Sheri Graner. “Gender Inclusive Game Design.” Not Your Mama’s Gamer. 2012. Web. 1 May
2014.

Salen, Katie and Eric Zimmerman, eds. The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology. MIT
Press, 2006. Print.

Salter and Blodgett. “Hypermasculinity and Dickwolves”. Project Muse. 30 August 2013.

Schleiner, Anne-Marie. “Does Lara Croft Wear Fake Polygons? Gender and Gender Role Subver-
sion in Computer Adventure Games.” Leonardo. 34.3 (2001) 221 226. JSTOR. Print.

Shapiro, Jordan. “This Series on Sexism in Video Games Might Change How You Think About
Joysticks”. Forbes.com. 9 March 2013. Web. 20 April 2013.

Sicart, Miguel. Beyond Choices: The Design of Ethical Gameplay. MIT Press, 2013. Print.

---. The Ethics of Computer Games. MIT Press, 2009. Print.

Ulmer, Gregory. Applied Grammatology: Post(e) Pedagogy from Jacques Derrida to Joseph Beuys. Balti-
20
Becoming Ourselves

more, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1984. Print.

---. Avatar Emergency. Anderson, SC: Parlor Press, 2012. Print.

---. Heuretics: The Logic of Invention. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994. Print.

---. Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy. New York: Longman, 2002. Print.

Wark, McKenzie. Gamer Theory. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2007. Print.

WoWWiki. Wikia. Web. 7 Nov 2012.

“You play video games? So are you… Fat, Ugly, or Slutty?”. 2013. Web. 20 April 2013.

21
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Secondary Field: Gender Studies

Blackmon, Samantha. Not Your Mama’s Gamer. 2014. Web. 11 January 2014.

Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of ‘Sex’. New York: Routledge, 1993.
Print.

----. Gender Trouble. 1990. Print.

----. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Femi-
nist Theory.” Theatre journal (1988): 519-531. Print.

Chipman, Bob. “Pink is Not the Problem”. The Big Picture. 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 18 April 2014.

Cixous, Helene. “The Laugh of the Medusa.” Chicago Journals. 1:4 (Summer 1976) 875-893.
JSTOR. Print.

---. The Third Body. Chicago: Northwestern UP, 2009. Print.

Davis, Angela Y. Blues Legacies and Black Feminism. New York: Pantheon Books, 1998. Print.

---. Women Race & Class. New York: Random House, 1981. Print.

Dijkstra, Bram. Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siècle Culture. New York: Oxford
UP, 1986. Print.

Fausto-Sterling, Anne. Sexing the Body. New York: Basic Books, 2000. Print.

Fine, Cordelia. Delusions of Gender. New York: Norton, 2010. Print.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality: An Introduction. Vol.1. New York: Vintage Books, 1978.
Print.

Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nine-
teenth Century Literary Imagination. 2nd ed. New Haven: Yale UP, 1979. Print.

---. Feminist Literary Theory and Criticism Reader: A Norton Reader. New York: Norton, 2007.
Print.

Halberstam, Judith. Female Masculinity. Durham: Duke UP, 1998. Print.

hooks, bell. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1981.
Print.

22
Becoming Ourselves

Irigaray, Luce. In the Beginning, She Was. Bloomsbury Academic, 2012. Print.

---. Speculum of the Other Woman. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1985. Print.

---. This Sex Which Is Not One. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1985. Print.

Irigaray, Luce, Carolyn Burke, and Gillian C. Gill. An Ethics of Sexual Difference. Ithaca, NY: Cor-
nell UP, 1993. Print.

Kimmel, Michael S. Guyland. Harper Collins eBooks. Kindle.

---. “Masculinity as Homophobia: Fear, Shame, and Silence in the Construction of Gender
Identity.” Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study. Ed. Paula S. Rothenberg.
New York: Worth(2004): 81-93.

Kristeva, Julia. Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art. New York: Columbia
UP, 1980. Print.

---. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. New York: Columbia UP, 1982. Print.

Lorde, Audre. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Berkeley, CA: Crossing Press, 1984, 2007. Print.

Moi, Toril. Sexual/Textual Politics. New York: Methuen, 1985. Print.

Nakamura, Lisa and Peter A. Chow-White. Race After the Internet. New York: Routledge, 2012.
Print.

Robbins, Ruth. Literary Feminisms. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Print.

Sarkeesian, Anita. “Tropes v. Women in Video Games.” Feminist Frequency. YouTube. 2014. Web.
11 January 2014.

Showalter, Elaine. Sexual Anarchy: Gender and Culture at the Fin De Siècle. London: Penguin Books,
1990. Print.

23
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Secondary Field: Folklore and Literature

Allchin, Douglas. “Monsters and the Tyranny of Normality: How Do Biologists Interpret Anoma-
lous Forms?” The American Biology Teacher. 70.2 (February 2008) 117-119. JSTOR. Print.

Braddon, Mary. Good Lady Ducayne. Sydney, Australia. ReadHowYouWant Books, 2007. Print.

Briefel, Aviva. “Monster Pains: Masochism, Menstruation, and Identification in the Horror Film.”
Film Quarterly. 58.3 (Spring 2005) 16-27. JSTOR. Print.

Carazo, Carolina Sanchez-Palencia and Manuel Almagro Jimenez. “Gathering the Limbs of the
Text in Shelley Jackson’s ‘Patchwork Girl’.” Atlantis. 28.1 (June 2006) 115-129. JSTOR. Print.

Cline. Ready Player One. New York: Broadway Books, 2012. Print.

Coffin, Tristram Potter. The Female Hero in Folklore and Legend. New York: The Seabury Press, 1975.
Print.

De France, Marie. The Lais of Marie de France. Trans. Glyn S. Burgess and Keith Busby. London:
Penguin Books, 2003.

Dreadful, Jilly. “The Cyborg in the Basement Manifesto, or, A Frankenstein of One’s Own: How I
Stopped Hunting for Cyborgs and Created the Slightly Irregular Definition of Cyborgean Forms of
Storytelling.” ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. 2013. Web. 1 May 2014.

Fenkl, Heinz Insu. “Fox Wives and Other Dangerous Women.” Realms of Fantasy. 1999. Web. 15
April 2014.

Frankel, Valerie Estelle. From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend. Jeffer-
son, NC: McFarland and Company Inc., 2010. Print.

---. Winning the Game of Thrones: A Host of Characters and Their Agendas. LitCrit Press, 2013.
Print.

---. Women in Game of Thrones: Power, Conformity, and Resistance. Jefferson, NC: McFarland,
2014. Print.

Gubar, Susan. “The Female Monster in Augustan Satire.” Signs. 3.2 (Winter 1977) 380-394. JSTOR.
Print.
Hammack, Brenda Mann. “Florence Marryat’s Female Vampire and the Scientizing of Hybridity.”
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. 48.4 (Autumn 2008) 885-896. JSTOR. Print.

Henein, Eglal. “Male and Female Ugliness Through the Ages.” Merveilles & contes. 3.1 (May 1989)
45-56. JSTOR. Print.

24
Becoming Ourselves

Hollinger, Veronica. “Women in Science Fiction and Other Hopeful Monsters.” Science Fiction
Studies. 17.2 (July 1990) 129-135. JSTOR. Print.

Hughes, Jacob. “A Monstrous Pedagogy.” Rocky Mountain Review. 63.1 (Spring 2009) 96-104. JSTOR.
Print.

Jurich, Marilyn. Scheherazade’s Sisters: Trickster Women and Their Stories in World Literature. Westport,
CN: Greenwood Press, 1998. Print.

Lowe, Dunstan. “Scylla, the Diver’s Daughter: Aescherion, Hedyle, and Ovid.” Classical Philology.
106.3 (July 2011) 260-264. JSTOR. Print.

Manganelli, Kimberly Snyder. Transatlantic Spectacles Of Race: The Tragic Mulatta And The
Tragic Muse. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 2012. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 8 May
2014.

Marryat, Florence. The Blood of the Vampire. New York: Valancourt Press, 2009. Print.

---. The Dead Man’s Message. London: Victorian Secrets, 2009. Print.

---. There is No Death. New York: Cosimo, 2004. Print.

Marryat, Florence and Charles B. Reed. The Spirit World. London: Bibliolife, 2010. Print.

Martin, George R.R. and Gardner Dozois. Dangerous Women. New York: Tor, 2013. Print.

Nitzsche, Jane C. “The Structural Unity of Beowulf: The Problem of Grendel’s Mother.” Texas Stud-
ies in Literature and Language. 22.3 (Fall 1980) 287-303. JSTOR. Print.

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. Mary M. Innes. London: Penguin Books, 1955. Print.

Parrish, Susan Scott. “The Female Opossum and the Nature of the New World.” The William and
Mary Quarterly. 54.3 (July 1997) 475-514. JSTOR. Print.

Pearson, Carol and Katherine Pope. The Female Hero in American and British Literature. New York:
R.R. Bowker Company, 1981. Print.

Pinkola Estes, Clarissa. Women Who Run With Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.
New York: Ballentine Books, 1995. Print.

Pollak, Ellen. “Comment on Susan Gubar’s ‘The Female Monster in Augustan Satire’.” Signs. 3.3
(Spring 1978) 728-732. JSTOR. Print.

Puhvel, Martin. “The Mighty She-Trolls of Icelandic Saga and Folktale.” Folklore. 98.2 (1987) 175-
25
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

179. JSTOR. Print.

Rowe, Aimee Carrillo. “Feeling in the Dark: Empathy, Whiteness, and Miscege-nation in Monster’s
Ball.” Hypatia. 22.2 (Spring 2007) 122-142. JSTOR. Print.

Ruberg, Bonnie. “Women Monsters and Monstrous Women.” The Escapist. 1 Nov 2005. Web. 3
May 2014.

Sanjek, David. “Dr. Hobbes’s Parasites: Victims, Victimization, and Gender in David
Cronenberg’s ‘Shivers’.” Cinema Journal. 36/1 (Autumn 1996) 55-74. JSTOR. Print.

Schlenker, Philippe. “A Plea for Monsters.” Linguistics and Philosophy. 26.1 (February 2003) 29-120.
JSTOR. Print.

Schoch, Sara. “Gothic Monsters and Masculinity: Neutralizing the New Woman in Victorian
Gothic Literature.” Explorations. 15 (2013).

Stein, Karen. “Monsters and Madwomen: Changing Female Gothic.” The Female Gothic. Ed. Julian
E. Fleenor. Montreal: Eden, 1983. 123-37. Print.

Stymeist, David H. “Myth and the Monster Cinema.” Anthropologica. 51.2 (2009) 395-406. JSTOR.
Print.

Talalay, Lauren. “The Mother Goddess in Prehistory: Debates and Perspectives.” Women Outside
Athens and Rome. Blackwell Publishing. 2012. Web. 2 May 2014. Print.

Thomas, Deborah A. “Assyrian Monsters and Domestic Chimeras.” Studies in English Literature,
1500-1900. 48.4 (Autumn 2008) 897-909. JSTOR. Print.

Weinstock, Michael. “Monsters, Mutations, and Morphology.” Perspecta. 40 (2008) 170-175.


JSTOR. Print.

Weinstone, Ann. “Resisting Monsters: Notes on ‘Solaris’.” Science Fiction Studies. 21.2 (July 1994)
173-190. JSTOR. Print.

Yolen, Jane. Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World.
New York: Norton, 2000. Print.

26
Becoming Ourselves

Video Games

Animal Crossing 2. Nintendo. 2013.

Assassin’s Creed III. Ubisoft. 2012.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Ubisoft. 2013

Bioshock. 2K Boston and 2K Australia. 2007.

Bioshock 2. 2K Marin and 2K Australia. 2010.

Bioshock Infinite. Irrational Games. 2013.

Borderlands. Gearbox. 2009.

Borderlands 2. Gearbox. 2012.

Bastion. Supergiant Games. 2011.

Batman: Arkham Asylum. 2009.

Batman: Arkham City. 2011.

Batman: Arkham Origins. 2013.

Cave Story. Studio Pixel. 2011.

Contrast. Compulsion Games. 2013.

Don’t Starve. Klei Entertainment. 2013.

Dragon Age: Origins. Bioware. 2009.

Dragon Age 2. Bioware. 2011.

Dragon Age: Inquisition. Bioware. Forthcoming.

Dragon’s Crown. Vanillaware. 2013.

Daylight. Zombie Studios. Forthcoming.

Destiny. Bungie. Forthcoming.

Dying Light. Techland. Forthcoming.

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Bethesda. 2011.

27
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

Elder Scrolls Online. Bethesda. 2014.

FTL Faster than Light. Subset Games. 2014.

GTA V. Rockstar Games. 2013.

Guacamelee!. Drinkbox Studios. 2013.

Journey. ThatGameCompany. 2012.

Limbo. PlayDead. 2010.

Mass Effect. Bioware. 2007.

Mass Effect 2. Bioware. 2010.

Mass Effect 3. Bioware. 2012.

Mictlan. Phyne Games. 2013.

Papo & Yo. Minority Media. 2012.

Pokémon X&Y. Game Freak. 2013.

Star Wars: The Old Republic. Bioware. 2011.

Thief. Eidos Montreal. 2014.

The Order 1886.Ready at Dawn. Forthcoming.

The Witcher. CD Projekt RED. 2007.

The Witcher 2. CD Projekt RED. 2011.

The Witcher 3. CD Projekt RED. Forthcoming.

Tomb Raider. Crystal Dynamics. 2013.

World of Warcraft. Blizzard. 2003-2014

Valkyria Chronicles. Sega. 2008.

28
Becoming Ourselves

Appendix

The Blood of the Vampire Game Outline

Chapter I: Introduction

Scene I.i: Hotel Bedroom


Harriet wakes up, looks around at a couple objects, including her own suicide note and a full-
length mirror in which she cannot see herself, but can see the world in color; player eventually
must leave the room.

Scene I.ii: Hotel Hallway


Harriet eavesdrops on some servants and learns what has happened to her and Tony (Tony was
dead by the end of their wedding night, and Harriet committed suicide); she tries to comfort a the
nun who had hoped to bring Harriet to a local convent, but Harriet sees her power happening for
the first time as she empathizes with the nun and wants to help her. The player can choose to stop
the power, drain some energy, but not all, or drain it all, in which case the nun will swoon and fall
to the floor.

Scene I.iii: Street Outside Hotel


Harriet learns that she is not in Italy where she and her late husband had been honeymooning,
but is back in London. Why, she wonders? She notices how foul the air is and how filthy the street.
The people are mere shadows like soot. Harriet notices a white, shimmering figure, who stands out
from all the other people, so she follows her.

****

Chapter II: Figuring Things Out


(Chance of random encounters in this chapter—50/50 chance; must have at least one. These will
be one of several generic interactions with nearby spirits in which the player can choose to drain
them of energy, talk with them a bit, or leave them be. No plot development in these, only charac-
ter development.)

Scene II.i: Alleyway


Harriet corners the shimmering woman and talks to her. She finds out that the woman is the spirit
of a black woman who worked in a local rich man’s house. She is recently deceased. The woman
comments on her life/death/etc. Describes how she sees Harriet, which is as a shimmering figure
with a black aura, like the toxic London fog.
29
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

(Chance of random encounter with spirit)

Scene II.ii: London Street


Musing on what she has learned, Harriet wanders about, listening in on the conversations around
her, looking into shop windows, and finally follows a couple into a restaurant.

(Chance of random encounter with spirit)

Scene II.iii: Restaurant


Harriet’s attention is immediately secured by a large, wall-length mirror in the restaurant. In it, she
can see the restaurant clearly and in full color. Mesmerized, she watches for a while until she sees
the couple she followed in. They are talking, and the man seems to be speaking very pointedly. She
turns to find them in the room, and is shocked to see the man savagely beating the woman.

This is the moment Harriet can learn to use her power without feeling a strong emotional attach-
ment to the person. Choices to run away, use your power on the man, or comfort the woman. If
you use your power on the man, you learn the Consume ability. If you comfort the woman, you
learn the Heal ability.

(Chance of random encounter with spirit)

Scene II.iv: Street Outside the Restaurant


Leaving the restaurant, Harriet catches sight of someone she recognizes: Dr. Philips, the man who
knew her parents and “diagnosed” her “problem”. [Flashback: it should be a series of images in col-
or and should include both the doctor and Harriet’s friend, Margaret. It shows Dr. Phillips advis-
ing Margaret to keep Harriet away from her baby.] When Harriet comes out of her flashback, she
sees Dr. Philips greeting her old friend, Margaret Pullen. They part and go in opposite directions.

Harriet may choose to follow the doctor or Margaret. Whichever one the player chooses, they will
eventually have the opportunity to follow up with the other. If the player chooses no one, they will
get the Generic Ending, which is that Harriet wanders for the next two days and then fades away.

****

Chapter IIIa: Margaret Pullen

Scene IIIa.i: The Queen’s Walk along the Thames


Harriet follows Margaret. She catches up with her and overhears her speaking with friends and
being generous to the poor. Choices on what to do.

Scene IIIa.ii: The Queen’s Walk along the Thames


Someone comes up and breaks the news of Harriet’s death to Margaret. Margaret’s reaction. Choic-
es on what to do.
(Chance of random encounter with angry spirit. Angry spirits try to drain Harriet. She must de-
30
Becoming Ourselves

fend herself. She can either use her power on it, try to speak to it (which yields nothing other than
that the spirit is angry about something), or run away. If the player chooses to stay and defeats the
spirit, she may choose to drain it or leave it alone.)

Scene IIIa.iii: Margaret’s House


Harriet follows Margaret home and sees how sad she is, guilty and upset about Harriet’s death and
still desperately missing her dead child, whom Harriet inadvertently killed. Choices: comfort her,
weaken her until she goes to sleep, or put her out of her misery. If Harriet comforts her, she will
learn the Heal ability, which allows her to give energy to someone.

**If Harriet ever gives up all of her energy, the player will get the Generic Ending. There should be
some sort of warning so this doesn’t happen inadvertently. Maybe when the bar gets below a third
full, a message appears and flashes reading “You begin to feel yourself fade away…”

Scene IIIa.iv: Margaret’s House


Harriet hears the sound of a baby crying. Choice to follow it or leave. If Harriet follows the sound,
it leads to a cradle in the room. Harriet sees a shimmering form in the cradle, more like pure
energy than a person. This is clearly the spirit of Margaret’s daughter, distressed and stuck in this
world. Choices: Harriet may leave or reach out to the child. If she reaches out, she learns the Pass
On ability, which allows her to send spirits on their proper paths out of the world.

**If Harriet has not already completed the Doctor’s section of the game, then:
When the spirit is gone, Harriet turns back to Margaret, who makes a comment about feeling
strange and needing to see the Doctor. She puts her hand on her address book, and opens it to his
address so the player will know where to go.

(Chance of random encounter with angry spirit; new options for dealing with it may be possible,
based on what the player learned in this chapter.)

****

Chapter IIIb: Doctor Philips: The Queen’s Walk along the Thames

Scene IIIb.i: The Queen’s Walk along the Thames


Harriet follows Dr. Philips. She catches up with him and overhears him being a jerk, as usual.
Choices on what to do.

Scene IIIb.ii: The Queen’s Walk along the Thames


He picks up a paper, and reading over his shoulder sees the announcement of her death. His reac-
tion, which is basically that it’s better for everyone if Harriet and her curse die. He will sleep easier
knowing she cannot hurt anyone else. Choices on what to do.

Scene IIIb.iii: The Street


Harriet tries to follow him home, but is stopped by angry spirits. She can try to talk to them or run
away. If she talks to them, she will learn about them, but eventually, they will turn hostile. She may
31
Woolbright Dissertation Prospectus

choose to run away or attack; if she attacks, she will learn the Consume ability, which she can use
to take the spirit’s energy and destroy it.

****

Chapter IV: Whichever chapter the player did not have as Chapter III will be their Chapter IV. So
if the player followed Dr. Phillips for Chapter III, they will get Margaret for Chapter IV and
vice versa.

****

Chapter V: Waking Up

Scene V.i: Market at ‘Spital Field (Location may change; I need to reread the book.)
Harriet encounters the spirit of a prostitute who wishes to talk to her because of Harriet’s odd
appearance. The spirit begs Harriet’s help; she has a young son and wants to make sure he is taken
care of.
Choices on how to help: decide who is going to help or harm the son, then choose to Heal the
helper or Consume the harmer. Can choose to Heal the son and ease his grief or Consume him
and put him out of his misery. Can choose to use Consume or Pass On with the mother’s spirit.
Can choose to do nothing.

(**Note: I am thinking of fleshing out the other random encounters like this so there is more sub-
stance there. I still want there to be some element of randomness as to what happens and when it
happens, and I don’t want the player to play through the same event twice.)

Scene V.ii: A Street Near the Market


Harriet encounters her dead husband, Tony. They talk, he forgives her for his death, and says he
still loves her. If Harriet has been aggressive, killing the spirits, he cautions her against giving in to
evil. (The player can choose what to think of this: take him seriously and pledge to change Harriet’s
ways; dismiss the charge and continue as before; or become angry with him for trying to control
her.)
At the end of the conversation, the player may choose to use Pass On or Consume on Tony, or she
may leave him alone. Whatever the choice, his final blessing before he goes is a kiss, which sends
her back to her body.

Scene V.iii: The Hotel Bedroom


Harriet wakes up. Parallel to opening scene, but this time, when she looks in the mirror, she can
see herself for the first time in the whole game. Harriet leaves the hotel and may go about her busi-
ness (cut to Endings) or may seek out Dr. Philips, since she knows where he lives now.

Scene V.iv: The Street


Near his home, Harriet encounters Dr. Philips. He is shocked to see her alive, seeming to expe-
rience a mixture of fear and annoyance. He asks after Tony, whom he knows is also dead, clearly
trying to gauge Harriet’s feelings on the subject. Harriet begins to feel the same discomfort and
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Becoming Ourselves

anxiety she remembers from when the angry spirits were near. She starts to hear their voices shout-
ing and when her face pales, Dr. Philips offers that she come inside and sit down for a while. If
Harriet doesn’t go, cut to Endings.

Scene V.v: Dr. Philips’s House


Harriet sits in Dr. Philips’s parlor and he fetches her a drink. He talks about her awful abilities in
a very patronizing way and recommends that she get to a convent or some similarly isolated place
for the sake of the safety of her fellow man. As he talks, the angry babbling of the spirits grows in
Harriet’s mind. Harriet may let him finish and then speak, or can Interrupt him in one of several
ways. Either way, she makes a speech, chosen by the player, line by line.

In the end, she chooses one of several ways to deal with Philips: 1. She kills him and Consumes his
spirit; 2. She drains him to the point that he falls into a coma; 3. She takes the energy of the spirits
around her and pours their hate into him, driving him to madness; 4. She Heals the prejudice in
his heart that he might accept others, whatever their difference; 5. She may leave him with just her
empowered words to sting him; 6. She may simply leave without a word.

Harriet leaves the house and the player gets their Ending.

ENDINGS

1. Player mostly used the Heal and Pass On abilities.


2. Player mostly used the Consume ability.
3. Player used all abilities equally.
4. Player only used powers a few times, but sparingly.
5. Player NEVER used powers.

Generic Ending: You wander the world until you fade away into nothing. (start over)

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