In Snowfall I wanted to explore the hesitancy of being emotionally vulnerable in the faceless but private space of one-on-one texting. Given the intimate and not-public nature of private texting, I built an interactive “Twine-style” narrative on Tumblr.
Snowfall follows the story of a protagonist who is hunted by their own anxieties in a field of falling snow, communicating exclusively with a friend via a messenger crow. The protagonist’s friend vents to them about their current anxieties and is generally very emotionally vulnerable, and the protagonist laments to the audience that they do not feel brave enough to share their own, while trying to support their friend. The protagonist continues wandering the snow field, eventually discovering that they have been walking in circles through the snowfield for an unknown length of time--essentially, lost. The player is eventually given the ultimate choice--send a meme to their friend and avoid being emotionally vulnerable, or confess the existential dread that has been haunting them. Should the player choose the meme, that is precisely what they will receive, and not be able to further advance the plot. The protagonist will continue to wander the snowfield indefinitely. Should the player choose to display emotional vulnerability, the bird, carrying the message, will turn on the monster hunting the player--their visualization of their anxieties--and destroy not only the looming figure, but the darkness of the void itself. It then returns, carrying the (supportive) letter from the friend.
Tumblr was chosen to carry the narrative as it is the most customizable social media platform that would allow me to carry out my desired aesthetics and fourth wall breaks such as breaking the black border when the white crow obliterates the looming anxiety-monster, the customizable color choices for hyperlinks (and being able to embed hyperlinks in the first place), etc. Tumblr also allows first time viewers to begin on the initial post and explore the narrative before arriving at “their” ending, and via the likes/reblogs function, it is feasible to see which route the audience takes.
On a more personal level, Snowfall, and other works I’ve created similar to it (such as Paper Airplanes) is largely based on my relationship with my longtime friend. Seven years into our hometown friendship, she moved seven hours away, and in the six years since we’ve largely only communicated via texting. This developed into a sense of communication I never see explored in artworks around me--how intimate texting can be, despite the near faceless anonymity of it, and despite how it is often characterized as a medium that is impossible to accurately express emotion in. The writing of Snowfall, in it’s own way, changed the way I interact with my long-distance friend. I found myself pushing myself to be more emotionally vulnerable with topics that I would, only a few weeks ago, not bother to bring to the table, and in the ultimate act of irony, pushed myself to share this project with her as well.
In an ideal world, Snowfall would be able to expand to a larger, branching, looping narrative system where you can control in further detail what the protagonist does as they explore the snow field, what they say to their friend via messenger crow, etc. Given the time constraints of the project, and my difficulty with figuring out how I wanted to execute my concept, and yet wanting to create a standalone piece that does not need the extensions, the current routes of Snowfall were created.