P2 Reflection: The FriendMatch

In this project, I ideated and built an interactive fiction game that raises awareness about the signs of catfishing. I centered this game around a high school student who just transferred and is having trouble adjusting to their new environment. The experience around the character makes them vulnerable to catfishing—players will be able to feel the emotions throughout the game. However, players have control over how to handle and prevent these kinds of emotions.

The story-driven play immerses users in the character’s feelings, especially since they have control over the character’s decisions throughout the game. I added a lot of imagery to set the tone and setting for the high school, as I felt that the surroundings mattered to create a clear picture of what the character is going through. I also took advantage of Twine’s medium to make this story truly interactive by having multiple decision points that branch out to new storylines and affect the overall outcome of the game and the consequences of the game. To further educate the audience, I implemented external resources that allow players to look into more if they were interested in being aware of catfishing.

I learned how to use Twine to build an interactive fiction story with audio effects, in which the player can immerse themselves in the game with their imagination and make decisions that affect the consequences of the story’s direction and outcomes. More specifically, I learned how to create an interactive game that has both an educational and fun aspect to it, which helps users stay engaged while learning something new. This project allowed me to hone my creative writing and storytelling skills. Through each playtest, I learned how to iterate on my characters and plot to make my story even more engaging. Before this project, I had never written any branching fictional stories. It was a steep learning curve to tie the story together, as the story could be infinitely long because of the limitless branching possibilities that Twine allows. Most importantly, I learned about the importance of catfishing. While there are quite a few articles about the topic out there, I felt that the media portrayed these cases as so humorous and outrageous that people feel like it could not happen to them. However, after learning about the subtle signs that lead to people being catfished and reading about how there are more than 20,000 reported catfishing cases per year, it made me realize that this was a significant issue and there are not enough engaging resources about the topic.

If I were to do this project again, I would want to add even more player choices and branches to the story, as increasing the number of branching paths in the story can add more depth and make the game feel more interactive. In this project, I brainstormed these ideas by myself and chose a topic based on what I felt would be educational. Next time, I would want to conduct more initial research to discover new ideas that the audience members care about and playtest on a more diverse group of users to further improve my game. Because my overarching goal for this game is to teach players how to be responsible digital citizens, I would also want to do more independent research to see what types of ethical issues there are in the digital and find ways to implement them into my existing story.

Word Count: 573

About the author

CS 247G (Spring 2022) + CS 377G (Winter 2023)

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