Thursday 19 September 2013

Storytelling, TVSZ and what I learned this week by being a zombie.

This past week on Headless 2013 we've been discussing storytelling,the arc of stories and Kurt Vonnegut's idea that stories have a shape. Well, I loved both the infographic and the video of Kurt Vonnegut discussing the shapes of stories. I had never thought of it that way but as soon as you do, you can completely see it. It is said that the gift of genius is the ability to see what others don't and then be able to explain it. Lovely to see it in action. What a great sense of humour Kurt Vonnegut had. The infographic helped solidify my understanding and was very helpful.

Now over the weekend, I succumbed to the lure of #TvsZ. Twitter vs. Zombies 3.0 is the brain child of Jesse Stommel and Pete Rorabaugh from Hybrid Pedagogy. The game is played by members of different university classes or online education groups such as OOE13. I'd played before and was very happy to play again. What's not to like about a story/game that unfolds and changes every 12 hours with new rules? As always, I started as human (I think the organizers are afraid of letting me start as Patient Zero-everyone would be a zombie by the end of the day. I am a very dedicated zombie.) and was turned within the first two to three hours of the game. Once again I became a zombie. But this time I had a #zombiegirlfriend  @barbiez2013. Now @barbiez2013 was a Twitter newbie, didn't have a blog and was, at the beginning, upset about being turned into a zombie (she was zombified before me.) We started direct messaging each other and we became a team, deciding on a target and pursuing them until we were successful. She quickly began understanding the nuances of twitter (much faster than I had) and within the game time period started a blog, uploaded video and pictures (a very similar learning curve of my own experience with TvsZ 2.0.) Together we turned Mariana Funes. Now Mariana struggled mightily with the whole idea of being a zombie, and she decided she was going to be a compassionate zombie, similar to the zombie character of Warm Bodies (new to me). She quickly got over that, but the idea she presented, that of a zombie who was able to absorb memories, stayed with me. And I began to write my blog posts as if zombies were driven not just by hunger, but by the desire to know people. To really understand their fellow human at the point of their demise. And lo and behold, a story emerged. Even though my blog posts were designed as #overrun attempts to destroy human #safezones while a zombie, a story emerged of a creature who lived not only for flesh but the sweetness and addiction to the memories of others. So when you destroy a zombie, do the dead finally, utterly die?

So what type of story curve is my human/zombie/human/zombie narrative that is found on Twitter and my blog and others during TvsZ? I started human, but was a happy killer as a zombie, I was reluctantly converted to a superhuman because of the wrench of leaving my zombie horde (we all feed together) and then in mid post let my inner zombie out again. I am wondering is this curve a Cinderella story? Or because of its ambiguity is it a Which Way is Up story line? I waver between the two but lean more to the Which Way is Up camp.

Now this time around, what did I gain from playing TvsZ? Well for one thing, I have finally wrestled Windows 8 into submission (enough that I should be able to participate fully in Headless DS106 I hope, though I am having issues with Soundcloud for some reason.) I have Movie Maker on my computer now, I can take photos with the webcam and I latched onto AudioBoo to make sounds to share on Twitter. It also was a great vehicle for promoting writing, both on Twitter and on my blog. I was very surprised at how attached I became to my alter zombie ego as a writer. And as always, I gain immeasurably from the interaction with others. I've gained some new friends, been delighted by the creativity of others and played a great game of hide and go seek/tag.

And when Twitter vs. Zombies 4.0 comes out? I'll be there!