We tell stories to make sense of our lived experiences. We play games for the same reason. What feels like entertainment seeps into the neurons and lets us embody and enact what our ordinary lives disallow: genders, ethnicities, and sexualities that are not our own; conflict zones we will never enter; professions and institutional orientations that seem alien to our way of being. Immersive role-play of any kind, be it Live-Action Role-Play (LARPing), Interactive Fiction (IF), or graphic interface adventure games, encourages us to disrupt our usual frames of reference, step into new ones, and re-view the world from a new, potentially uncomfortable vantage point.

The games below include purely instructional and thought-provoking flash games (not my own, and credited to their various makers) to interactive fiction penned by me. All of my own work is under an Attribution/Non-Commercial/Share-Alike Creative Commons license. Game type and discipline are indicated in the titles. I have successfully implemented these games in either Composition & Rhetoric or Journalism & Media Studies courses. I’ve reflected on their pedagogical efficacy under the courses in which they were used, found in my Portfolio.

TW: Interactive fiction may include textual descriptions or mentions of traumatic material such as wartime abuses, rape, and prejudicial killing.

(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Vyshali Manivannan

Relatively young for the profession, you are a living legend who embodies success. You graduated from columnist at The Daily Mail to freelance writer for Reuters to West Africa war correspondent at BBC. Your fearlessness in the field, stringent fact-checking, incredibly high standards, and natural storytelling ability has helped your career soar, as viewers can emotionally connect with you, recently landing you the coveted position of anchor for BBC London.

“Ali Cornwall” is now a household name, and you think you want for nothing. But there’s new talent circulating, and you can’t help but hear about Giles Hall, the man who filled your shoes as war correspondent in West Africa, proving himself through his reporting on Ebola, Sierra Leone, The Gambia.

Nothing is certain in this business. And with your upcoming broadcast, everything may be about to change…

(CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Vyshali Manivannan

You are “Radhika Mitra,” an Indian woman who lives and works in Delhi as the editor-in-chief of The World Daily, and presently the reportage and testimony about a string of local rapes awaits your review and approval before it goes to press. You have been warned numerous times. You have received threats. Your family and friends are supportive but don’t quite understand why this issue is so important to you. “Rape is the baggage of being a woman,” they say. You want to change this view, desperately. You also want to protect those who serve you. You also don’t want to die…

Credit: Pippin Barr

A flash game that takes the player through various iterations of the philosopher’s dilemma “the trolley problem.”


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