My Twine work, “Vivid”, is a multilinear look at the concepts of intrusive thoughts and maladaptive daydreaming. Taking heavy inspiration from Robert Coover’s work “The Babysitter”, I wanted to make a work that dips in and out of reality as a serene way to explore the topic of mental illness. I felt that this would be effective because of the often random and unpredictable tendencies of mental illness.
Maladaptive daydreams are extremely intense daydreams that can often be confused with reality by the sufferer. Combined with intrusive thoughts, involuntary thoughts that are upsetting or distressing, these maladaptive daydreams can be extremely intense and disturbing for the victim. With my work, I attempted to recreate this sensation in a written form in order to raise awareness of what living with mental illness can be like.
“Vivid” is an interactive fiction that also has some combinatory aspects at its core. The multilinear structure of this work makes it participatory, immersive, and experiential, allowing for the interactor to influence how the story progresses. However, the interactor does not have complete control, as my work also uses randomly generated story progression. These two mechanics combined allow for multiple playthroughs that each detail how mental illness is both the same and different on a daily basis.
My goal with this work was to raise awareness about mental illness by writing about a topic that everyone experiences. Everyone has had thoughts about harm to themselves or a loved one, but it can be much more intense when combined with mental illness. I wanted to create a piece that could combine both the experiences of those who suffer from mental illness and those who do not. In doing this, I aimed to make a work that everybody could understand and that created an immersive representation of mental illness that those who do not suffer from it could better understand.
Achieving a work that could explore mental illness while still being relatable and understandable to those who do not suffer from mental illness was both easy and difficult. As someone who does not suffer from this kind of mental illness, I was able to make sure that the work was easy to understand, but actually writing about the mental illness was challenging. My girlfriend, who suffers from mental illness, was a tremendous help in describing how it manifests and what kinds of maladaptive daydreams she has experienced. She was also able to make sure that the way I approached mental illness was accurate and respectful, which was extremely important to me.
The biggest challenge with this project was definitely finding a stopping point, Often the problem that writers can find with Twine and multilinear fiction is making too large of a web that eventually becomes daunting and impossible to finish. I attempted to avoid this problem, but I would love to expand this work at a later date if it seems necessary or potentially beneficial. Getting lost in a multilinear, interactive work can be an amazing experience, such as in Porpentine’s works. I wanted to create a similar experience while adding a powerful, important message to the heart of the work.