Transmedia Stories: Narrative Methods for Public Health and Social Justice

Transcript to "Saving the World: S.E.E.D.'s Gameplay"

PROPHYLE ANNOUNCER (V/O FROM MEDIA ASSET “BROADCAST TRANSMISSION 01”): “And now for a message from ProPhyle, reminding you that we are always watching. We at ProPhyle are proud to partner with our temporally localized allies, the Temporal Archivists, a group of forward thinkers and technologists. These bold innovators transform…”

SCATTERING INSURGENT (V/O FROM MEDIA ASSET “THE SCATTERING”): “This is a coded message from The Scattering and we don’t have much time. ProPhyle is not what it seems. You haven’t stopped the end of the world. Without knowing it, you’ve made it worse. We need your help to reverse this pro-pro-process. Don’t tell ProPhyle or the Archivists about this message.”

ASHLYN SPARROW: With Week 1, we had our game designers act as Temporal Archivists telling the players that the world was going to end. We wanted to create a way that our youth would learn about science, in the general sense, but we also, for our research perspective, we also wanted to build up communication skills. So with these two learning goals of communication but also learning about sciences, we started to work our way to debates.

PATRICK JAGODA: We had them debate about topics like climate change, resource depletion, and super viruses like ebola. And in order for them to have these debates, they had to get organized, they had to work as a team, they had to do research and learn about all these science topics. So it may seem really dark that we had them debate about apocalyptic issues, but it was a way to get them invested in STEM learning, so they started off with the idea that climate change was happening or resource depletion was a very real problem and that in order to tackle that they had to both learn about what the problem was and what possible science solutions might be.

DEBATE SPEECH 01 (DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE): “Global inequality is the biggest factor that will contribute to the end of the world because it leads to social inequalities that create the majority of the Earth’s dilemmas, including climate change, resource depletion, and super viruses. Global inequalities are sets of case limits showing how economic forces have their social effects on the bodies of the lower and higher classes. Today, because of global inequality, the average lifespan of a person who lives in Malawi, Africa is up to only 47 years old, whereas…”

DEBATE SPEECH 02 (DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE): “Most deaths in poverty-stricken areas are commonly caused by low healthcare and scarce opportunities. Without clean water and hospitals, crowded areas, and few jobs, plus the inability to get the resources one needs to survive, it makes it very hard to live there. While rich countries burn fossil fuels and emit harmful gasses into the air, poor countries are the ones who are affected the most.”

PHILIP EHRENBERG: And so a lot of the work for the youth in the first week of the program was learning how to research these topics, but also learning how they apply in ways that they may not expect to their current lives. So in researching a super virus, they were learning about how diseases spread and we were providing them with information about current health crises in Chicago, and so in that way we were locating these apocalyptic scenarios and the sort of science that will be needed to address those global problems very much in their local, everyday lived realities so that they had a more immediate connection to the type of learning. As they would discover more about these sciences, they were learning more about their communities and their own lives.

ASHLYN SPARROW: Our learning objective for Week 2 was math, was getting youth to learn about cryptogrpahy. Cryptography in the sense of more logic puzzles as opposed to teaching them actual math or cryptography that you would go and work at the NSA. This is a way to standardize our students, since they come from multiple grades, so we gave them something completely new, starting them back from ground zero. We wanted our youth to know about basic cryptography and be able to do it quickly, so this is where PowerSpots came into play.

PATRICK JAGODA: Each team received two iPads, and those iPads had a map of the University of Chicago campus with key spots like the Rockefeller Chapel or the Regenstein Library.

ASHLYN SPARROW: In two to three hours, they need to solve as many cryptography puzzles as possible.

TEAM YUCCA (DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE): “Can you open it now or do we have to be inside?”
“Start challenge.”
“Okay guys, guys, we got it.”

ASHLYN SPARROW: “So they have to understand where they’re at, in relationship to the next spot. They had to be able to look at the different environments in a different sort of way, such that they’re able to solve these cryptography puzzles. So this is the learning goal for the end of the week and how we mapped that to PowerSpots.

TEAM YUCCA (DOCUMENTARY FOOTAGE): “Something, writers, what writers like most? And we had to figure it out by, uh, what was it, the magnitude?” “Yeah.” “From smallest to largest magnitude.”
“And there were symbols, from smallest and largest pieces.”
“Yeah, and so we put those in order by the letters that they gave us that…” “What they’re commonly known as.”
“Yeah, commonly known letters, and it was ‘being alone.’ So, writers like being alone.”

ASHLYN SPARROW: “We wanted to make use of our campus. We wanted our youth to look at it in a different sort of way. So, what would it look like to stand behind the third pillar in Rockefeller to go and look at the stained glass window. You’re now looking at patterns, you’re looking for patterns all over the campus, and so that’s another way that we kind of appropriated ARG cryptography design in our own summer program.