North Central Positronics is a make-your own adventure game.[ | edit source]
Context[ | edit source]
While we gladly recount "It's not about the destination, its about the journey", the results-based culture we live in often encourages the opposite.Despite our professed disdain for rigid procedures and bureaucracy, we find ourselves entrenched in economic and social systems that enforce behavioral compliance to protocol.
This project is an online game and network that reframes and challenges the results-driven behavior imposed by modern constructs of control such as order, classification, and hierarchy.
Inspiration[ | edit source]
North Central Positronics is commentary on technology’s role in the concentration of power and authority. Modern technologies like cloud computing, media streaming, blockchain, and the internet itself promised decentralization and democratization; but have also created mega-tech giants, overnight millionaires, and crises about surveillance and personal data.
Alexander Galloway details this era of containment and control in Protocol: How control exists after decentralization. It is an era of fidelity, pattern and algorithms where information is a life-force and randomness is the enemy. Companies in this era grapple for complete control of our wallets and eyeballs by creating behavioral funnels that provide the ‘illusion of choice’ in the content we see and the actions we take.
Netflix’s interactive Bandersnatchis a paragon of this illusion. While viewers feel they’re making personalized choices, they are really operating within a gated, highly monitored world designed to retain their attention.
North Central Positronicsattempts to go a step beyond the gated worlds of choose-your-own-adventure games and rigid text adventure games like Zork. It is influenced by The Stanley Parables, which pokes fun at the illusion of choice in games and in life; and Dungeons & Dragons, which encourages creativity and spontaneity in lieu of optimal path-finding.
The game’s content is inspired by works of sci-fi including The Matrix and Animatrixseries, The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, and the CW'sThe 100 series; which call these themes into question by transporting the viewer to a world just far enough from our own.
Adventure game critiques by designers including Ron Gilbert, Henry Jenkins, James Hay and Nick Couldry inspired the design of the game’s overall.
A note from Caleb[ | edit source]
Prior to ITP I was member of one of the largest results-based cultures in the world - the financial institution system.My overall experience and practice within "the machine" (and with machines) gave me the opportunity to examine and re-examine both the benefits and drawbacks of the mindset.
I find the benefits of such a mindset are already well-represented - justifying their existence like an anti-rational meme - but the drawbacks are often ignored. With this project I hope to create one more "thing" helps expose them to others.