Today I am launching my latest writing project; Thalia’s Quest. The project is a text adventure game I have worked on for the last few weeks using Twine; an open-source tool for creating interactive narratives and stories. The game has been created as part of a year long project with Raspberry Pi, who have been tutoring me and eight other young people since last April in using and making software and hardware. Our year culminates this Saturday, the 23rd April 2016, in an exhibition at the Raspberry Pi Towers in Cambridge. All nine of us will be exhibiting our work, and this game is one half of my project. The other is a sculpture made of acrylic sheets, lights and a plywood mount, which I will be revealing more about later in the week. In the meantime, I posted some teaser photos on my twitter.
The idea is simple, but I hope that audiences will find it engaging, thought-provoking and fun. Thalia’s Quest revolves around one key image; a raspberry plant. In the game, Queen Thalia calls for the help of keen and able adventurers. The royal raspberry plant, kept alive for generations, has begun to die. It can only be saved by long-forgotten magic words which only the spirits of the forest know. Anyone brave enough has been asked to offer their aid to the Queen seek out the forest spirits and find the magic words to restore the beautiful plant to its former vitality. There may be danger, and there will certainly be adventure.
The text adventure is accompanied by a sculpture of LED lights and clear acrylic sheets to represent the in-game raspberry plant. The LEDs are connected to the Raspberry Pi 2; a small, affordable computer that can do almost anything. The Raspberry Pi is then connected to Twitter, and throughout the course of the exhibition it will sense how many times the ‘magic words’ have been shared and tweeted. The more this happens, the more the electronic raspberry plant will illuminate and be healed.
You can get involved with the exhibition on Saturday by tweeting #ThaliasQuest as well as the magic words you find in the game. Share your hints, tips and answers with others, and enable as many people as possible to get involved. I will be tweeting pictures of the sculpture throughout the day so you can keep track of how the project is progressing.
For this project, I wanted to explore the rising trend of social media and how the internet can be used to foster positivity, and the idea that we are better when we work together. The internet can be a dark place; full of trolls who use the anonymity and indirect communication to behave negatively. On the flipside, when disasters strike, with the click of a button you can mark yourself as safe on Facebook so friends and family know you’re okay. Social media lets us communicate with people around the world, and come together either in celebration or solidarity. I wanted my project to focus of the positive aspects of social media, and so I made Thalia’s Quest.
Thalia’s Quest is structured to mimic fairy tales, with the central plot point involving a hero and a call to action, in this case a quest to save a raspberry plant. It is a royal who acts as the catalyst for the story, although this role is normally given to a King, not a Queen. Thalia’s Quest uses the rule of three throughout the narrative; three quests, three magic words, three items and three obstacles in each quest. The story is not rooted in a particular time or place, and just as most fairy tales are still relevant today, the narrative is designed to transcend time and culture. The language used aims to avoid complex words and sentences, and like fairy tales, can be read by children. Of course, every fairy tale and folk story has a moral. The moral of this story is that, despite a rising capitalist culture and the anonymity of the internet age, selflessness and community are beneficial, and should still be important today.