Those Toons Still Here – Online Intervention
Artist Statement: “Those Toons Still Here” is a work that aims to experiment with the dialogue that can now be had in a resurrected, nostalgic, online kids gaming platform that previously did not allow free speech. Specifically, my intention was to engage with others in order to see if I can have meaningful conversation in this online community whose player base is primarily left over from years ago and built on the nostalgia of people my age. Toontown Rewritten (https://www.toontownrewritten.com/) is the new version of Disney's Toontown Online, after the original was shut down. Toontown was a 3D massively multiplayer online role-playing game based on a cartoon animal world, developed by Disney's Virtual Reality Studio and Schell Games, published by the Walt Disney Company. Toontown Rewritten is essentially the exact same game with a still decent player base; however, now players can type their own words in the chat function. Since a large proportion of these players are nostalgic young adults, I used this assumption as a guideline to facilitate genuine conversation. Age guided questions that I will use to engage players included procrastination, registering to vote, college, and existential crisis. I don’t intend to ruin people’s time on this platform of escapism; therefore, I tried to casually integrate more meaningful or deep levels of conversations in Toontown since the layer of fun can engage players more to talk about these subjects. I used the area in the game called Toontown Central to initiate conversations since this is usually a place for characters to take a break, fish, meet up with friends, and regain health.
In its execution the response of the players was interesting. For the most part, players were kind, responsive, but also brief. Most of the conversations were quick small talk about the game itself usually ending with a player leaving to finish their next task. However, after many quick exchanges there would occasionally be an interaction that was pretty long and genuine. Several of these conversations were started around nostalgia and some about usingToontown as a way to procrastinate and not worry about the future. Topics such as childhood, bonding with siblings, college, dropping out of college, and future careers were talked about when interacting with people. The documentation I chose for this project was just one of these interactions which I thought best encapsulated this experience. The interaction starts after we had been talking for a minute or so with other players and is shown unedited from then on. I think the casual nature of the conversation paired with the topics brought up reflect a lot on the people who are still on this platform. Moreover, I think it can be seen as one interesting perspective on a specific subset of people my age and their mindsets.