The culling : creating an immersive video game as a framework for audience participation and philosophical engagement
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The rhetoric of the Trump campaign and now administration has stoked the fires of xenophobia in America; The Culling seeks to confront this fear of others through an immersive performance experience. This qualitative reflective practitioner research study describes The Culling, an MFA thesis project that positions the audience as actors in an interactive, immersive theatrical video game located in a xenophobic, futuristic dystopia. Through an examination of the relationship between technology, art, and empathy, this study considers the relationship between interactive projections and physical and philosophical engagement for the audience members. This descriptive analysis shares the inspiration for, creation of, and resulting response to the project. The project specifically asks two questions: 1. How can design be used to create audience movement? 2. How can paradigms of participatory theater be used to create philosophical engagement through an experience of prejudice? To answer these questions the author created an immersive, interactive video game that also included elements of theater. The game was set in a dystopian future where players must solve puzzle games to prove their humanity. Drawing on elements of theater design, game design, playwriting, and science fiction, The Culling placed the audience inside the story world both physically and emotionally.