#GameAWeek Failure! “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT”

Check out unfinished failure: On the Difficulty of Being an ANT: The Interactive Version!

Last week and this week, I’ve been sort of stuck in a moment of nonproductivity with regard to the #gameaweek challenge that I’m doing with Ana, Dennis, Melissa, and Greg. Ana is super inspiring and still going strong and even wrote about her experiences in the ProfHacker column for The Chronicle of Higher Ed!

My moment of stuckage can be primarily blamed on two things. First, I’m making a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure game with Inklewriter based on Latour’s dialog found in his book Reassembling the Social. It’s an interlude between chapters in the book and features a professor having a conversation with a student, and it’s called “On the Difficulty of Being an ANT.”

“ANT” here, of course, refers to Actor-Network Theory, and the dialog is mostly the professor responding to the student’s questions about how to use ANT with cryptic answers, often describing what ANT is not rather than what it is. This is partially out of necessity; ANT is difficult to nail down specifically since it’s a philosophical way of looking at the interrelated objects in the world. (And since it’s sort of an approach to the world, its cryptic nature parallels Buddhist, Taoist, etc.-ist sayings… bonus points if you immediately thought of Sphinx from Mystery Men.) According to Latour, it’s not really a method, not a framework to be applied to anything; it’s more just something to remember as you try to describe what you observe with a neutral eye that doesn’t presuppose agency or intent or predefine labels for things.

It’s hard to explain.


I’m stuck in making this a game because I keep waffling between trying to make it more understandable vs. throwing in parody and humor (like having the student ragequit) vs. actually adding an ANT meter and keeping track of a score that the player is trying to reach by the end of the conversation. And I’m doing this thinking in my head while sort of staring at the Inklewriter screen.  I probably should be doing the thinking on paper… But I thought it’d be good to get all the text down first and then see what I had to work with…

Anyway, it’s now been two weeks, and I should probably just move on with this #gameaweek challenge and revisit this ANT dialog when I have a better idea for how to approach it…

But GOOD NEWS, everybody! In realizing my faltering momentum, I asked Sandra Danilovic if she’d partner up with me in this challenge (and also convert it to a game every two weeks) and she’s accepted! I met Sandra virtually through the Semaphore lab at U of Toronto that Sara Grimes helps run. (I know Sara from lots of stuff–mostly conferences incl. that one year at DML where we were on a panel together–interestingly, the panel was on ANT, assemblages, and mangles in games!) Sandra is into experimental and art games–honest games–and games that are about disability, trauma, pain, and recovery, and I’m sooo excited for what we’ll (attempt to) accomplish!

So… more games in our future!

Oh, also, the other reason I’ve taken so long in making a game is that I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic pretty consistently these last two weeks with a friend. It’s fun doing ALL the missions cooperatively. The only ones we don’t always do together are the class-specific story missions, and some of those don’t share well with party members…

This is partially for work, though, as the doctoral students in the Games, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds for Learning class at Pepperdine that I’m teaching right now and I are playing SWTOR and Guild Wars 2 together. 🙂

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