The Last Game - An Interactive Film

Yimeng Bai

An online interactive multi-perspective fiction film that encourage users to create their own narratives based on their journeys.

The Last Game is an interactive fiction film project. The scenario of the narrative takes place in a
mysterious bar where several individual incidents intertwine with each other and occur simultaneously. Users are able to select single, multiple parts of the story, or even a particular character that they would like to start with, and surf along the site to find the other scenes. Users are free to choose any viewing order to satisfy their preference. The narrative will be gradually unfolded by itself as the users’ individual interactivity goes.

The Last Game encourages users to acquire the story from multiple points of view and build their own narrative. The narrative of the story is presented from multi-perspectives, and the website is the platform to show how content and perspective are combined to convey more experience to the users. The purpose of making such an interactive film is to explore how user interprets plots determined by given perspectives and situations in a particular sequence, making The Last Game both a puzzle and an exploration into storytelling, which could also be considered a kind of immersive game.

01 A Short Multi-perspective Story Experiment

It’s really important to have the right content to fit this concept. It took me quite a while to figure out an appropriate story to tell in this way.

I witnessed a robbery on the subway one day. People witness differently base on their perspective. Then I tried to write a tiny fiction story from perspectives based on this real experience. The story have three versions based on different characters’ perspective. Each character witnessed only part of the story and the narratives varied from character to character.
The story happens in the NYC subway, viewers can choose from three distinct characters’ perspective. These three stories happen at the same time during one minute, whereas each is part of the whole story, only by viewing all of them, viewers can unfold the whole truth.

Imagine you are character A talking to your friend while the train is approaching the station. Suddenly someone yelled, “He just stole your wallet!” The door closed, you didn’t see what had happened, and you turned your head back and saw an old woman fumbling in her purse.

Imagine you are character B, sitting on the other side of A, and you saw a young guy stealthily opened the old woman's purse from her back and also saying something to her. The train door opened, the guy walked out with the woman’s wallet in hand. You yelled: he just stole your wallet!  The old woman looked at you, and fumbled in her purse.

Imagine you are character C, the old lady. You hear the young guy whisper behind you “hey lady watch out your bag is open." You turned your head back to this “nice” guy feeling grateful. Then he left the train. Someone in train yelled: he just stole your wallet! You realized that young guy stoled your wallet.  

02 A Multi-channel Video Installation

After finishing this story, I intended to build a multi-channel video installation. The set up would have be a human-scale hexagonal construction with multi projected screens. the installation consist of six projections, which are connected to form a hexagon. Passive stereo (linear polarization) screens. Viewers can choose to move freely around the hexagon to view individual screens or step back to watch the screens simultaneously. Each screen shows one perspective of the same big story, viewers can only watch one screen or watch more at the same time. This execution requires capturing an event from multi perspectives, and each different side stands alone as an engaging film.

The biggest concern about using this multi-channel video installation to tell a multi-perspective story, is the side story happening simultaneously. All of which, have to be intriguing and different. Coming up with the plot is very challenging in this short period of time, and also the installation is location specific, it would not be allowed to invite audiences from far places.
Finally, I decided to make an online interaction film that encourage users to create their own spectatorship based on their journeys.

General web user

User Scenario
01 Plot Line

In a bistro, four strangers, Alex, Brent, Catherine, Dominic, are waiting for a professional and qualified killer to “help” them “suicide”, unfortunately the bar tender claims that in the following 10 minutes this killer will only choose one in advance of the midnight, so only one person is being able to die today. While confessing their sins and dissatisfactions for life they find their problems solved by other people and don’t have to die.

02 Characters

Alex - In his late 30s, mid-class. He considers defrauding insurance by homicide to leave money for his
loved wife suffering from the severe brain cancer.

Brent - Mid-aged, male, a drug-dealer. he indulges in drug, doesn’t want to die of drugs and hopes to have dignity death.

Catherine - Mid-aged, female, unsuccessful novelist. She disillusioned in writing and desperate for life and want to achieve fame after death.

Dominic - Mid-aged, male, devout Catholic, a famous Spiritual teacher, whose son has just suicide under the pressure of the public opinion, suddenly feels strongly self-denial about his profession and life.

Ethan – Bartender , at his early 20, and seems cute. He has that sort of boy-next-door quality.
Killer - an mysterious character.

03 Message

THE LAST GAME deals with a extremely sensitive and tragic subject - Suicide. viewers are invited to experience the story from four characters’ perspectives, to discuss the questions of Live or Death. I want to enforce the meaning of the life against suicide, and to point out the fact that there is no excuse to end up a precious life.

The meaning of concept of killer might be just fabricated to gather suicide-inclined people together in that bar, in order to make them cure each other on purpose but unconsciously. the owner thinks this would be the best way to save people from desperate suiciding. as for the validity of existence of that killer, no one knows.

04 Story Outline

Minutes 1-2
•The universal scene.  Starting everything out.  
•Starts with Ethan kicking another customer out for the “exclusive club”
•Establish ordering a the ”end game” drink
•Light talk with everyone establishing their part of the game, except Brent
•Ethan says only one person can die
•Ends with Dominic entering from the restroom

Minutes 3-4
•Brent and Dominic – Brent approaches Dominic, causeDominic is a public figure with how his son dies.  Dominic says about how he can’t kill himself because suicide makes people go to hell in his beliefs.  Brent brings up his responsibility in his son’s death, saying he’s already going to hell already, might as well take himself out of the running. His son must’ve gone to hell, too.
•Alex and Ethan – Ethan lends a sympathetic ear to Alex’s plight.  Alex explains his love for his wife.  
•Catherine is by herself.  Improv,
•Ethan makes last call, Catherine orders a drink LOUDLY.
Minutes 5-6
•Brent and Catherine – they flirt, which ends positively.  Catherine is flattered, despite her age over him.  She reveals why she wants to kill herself.
•Alex and Dominic – share their loss and tragedy.  Alex gives him legal advice about how he’s not at fault, how he actually has a legal case against the people at the school.  
•Ethan starts cleaning up the bar, stacking glasses.

Minutes 7-9
•Brent opens by throwing in his cards and ORDERING AN END GAME
•Brent and Alex have their big fight about morality.  Catherine leans in, defends Brent a bit.  Brent calls her pathetic, destroys her hope again.  Alex encourages her.
•Dominic and Ethan try to have the religious talk about ethos and suicide,  Ethan blows Dominics mind.  They pause to watch the big fight.
•Ends with Brent taking a shot.

Minute 10
•It’s midnight.  A person has been chosen.  Go home.  

THE LAST GAME is an interactive film presented on a flash-based website. Viewers play as one of the four characters as navigators from 4 unique perspectives of the story.

Each story is divided into several scenes and they are sorted in non-linear order, where the users have to put the story together by themselves and figure out how the story is unfolded. During the journey users are able to see how characters interact with each other and how they persuade each other not to die by providing a solution which is hard to tell whether it’s real or not.

The interaction design intended to make users to play the role of the “Killer”, after watching and listening to all the characters’ story and confessions, each of the viewers can make a decision and choose one character that you think can get the chance to die.

User Interaction Flow

1. OPENING SCENE - Once the viewers enter the site, it will run a clip for about two minutes which it will be all characters’ universal time. So the users are watching them all in an omniscient angle, in order to get a general understanding of the story.

2. LANDING PAGE - After played the opening scene. Will come to the landing page. Story diverges from each character's point of view, and this is when users are able to choose characters and participate.

3. CHARACTER’S PAGE - On a character’s main page, all clips about this character lined up in a random order in the middle, and open and end scene on the sides. From here user can start to choose one clip to start the journey.

4. PLAY MODE - The clip plays in a full browser mode. Mouse over the clip, users can stop the clip or jump to the next one.

5. TIMELINE BAR - A Timeline Bar shows under the clip. the yellow high-lighted section represent the current playing part.

6. CUSTOMIZED NARRATIVE - Mouse over the Timeline Bar, it will show a lined-up preview of all the clips of this character, the clips are able to drug so users can make there own narratives base on their own understanding of the story.

7.CHARACTER NAVIGATION BAR - The Characters Navigation Bar allows users to jump to another character at anytime, click another character to see a different perspective of the story.

8. UNTANGLE THE ENDING - The ending scene untangled after watching more than four clips.

9. MAKE YOUR CHOICE - After watching the ending, users can make a decision to choose a character they think can get the chance to die.

10. COMMENTS PAGE - Share your thoughts page encourages users to submit their own idea of the story, their own narratives and thoughts. Users can also get the chance to explore other people’s ideas.

By presenting a story in non-linear way, I would like to provide the viewers with a chance to create their own narratives, having an intensive interaction with the film, while the story itself is still kept meaningful and playful at the same time. Every user is able to have their own version of the story, but for overall experience it is still able to feel like a whole story.