This week has been a big one for Trepidation, as I have undertaken a great deal of research into the subject. It has been a rather fun and interesting journey though – a journey…into the unknown!
So the week began with me opening up a brand new blog post and typing out the word Trepidation into the title box. After staring at it blankly for a little while I then decided that the best way to approach the monstrosity of research that I was about to begin was to try and divide it into sections, so that it was a bit easier to manage. Luckily, in the previous week’s session Adam had provided us with just that; a list of different sections that we could potentially use as “jumping off” points for research.
I sifted through the sections and then picked out a few that I felt were the most relevant; Locations, Films, Books, History, Technology. Starting with Locations, I decided to pick through some of the previous research I had conducted into Trepidation and look at some more online, and then come up with a list of “unknown” locations. After a short while, I decided on three that continuously cropped up in both media and fear discussions/topics; Oceans, Snow and Man Made Structures.
Heeding Adam’s advice from the previous week that it would perhaps be more interesting to look into the unknown side of things and put aside fear for a while, I then set to work on looking into what exactly made these locations “unknown”. My conclusion by the end was that it was a case of limiting certain senses, for example within the ocean you are limited significantly in terms of line of sight and muffled sounds, and that combined with the knowledge that a great percentage of our oceans remains unexplored makes them very “unknown”. Similar ideas then presented themselves in Snow and Man Made Structures, and so with that I had a list of common “unknown” features that I could then bring forward.
With a fair chunk of my research either planned or looked into, it was then that time of the week for James’ Workshop. We continued with the calculus learning that we began last week, and I tried my hardest to understand what on earth was going on (as I said in my last Weekly Walkthrough, Maths is not my strong point). I got the gist of it though, and overall it was a pretty interesting session. We then set about having one to ones with James about our individual game mechanics that we wanted to learn, and how we might go about actually coding them. Mine was the picking up an item mechanic from The Last Of Us 2 E3 trailer, and after a discussion with James I discovered that it would actually be far easier to code than I had anticipated, being mainly a case of “tricking” the player into thinking they had picked up an item when actually after pressing a key after entering a Trigger collider the original item would be destroyed and another would be added to the player’s hand. In terms of actual code it wouldn’t be too tricky, which I was pleasantly surprised by.
After the Workshop I then spent the rest of the week diving back into my Trepidation Research, and first off I decided to look into some Case Studies; Religion and Robotics, as they both feature unknown elements and it was interesting to study how we as humans react to both situations and to the different unknowns. Religion was particularly intriguing, as one of the major reasons people have it is because it claims to answer fundamental questions that science cannot, such as how we came to be as a species or what our purpose is in life – the fundamental unknowns (see what I did there) of humanity as a whole.
It was here however that I found myself a little stuck. I had all this researched information, but no easy way to condense it all down into another potential avenue to present to my fellow students the following week.
Luckily, the day after I hit this little dilemma was our weekly Friday workshop. This time we had a workshop entitled Speculative Design, which is essentially “presenting critical and imaginative ways to envision possible worlds and alternative futures, engaging with social reality and even political issues.” In teams, we were tasked with flipping through a series of images and choosing one to take forward, from which we would then posit an alternate “evil design” world where something about it would be several degrees worse than our own.
The image we selected was of a building with no windows (and for the life of me I cannot find it – sorry) and so we posited an alternate world where people live in glass houses (like the one above) where everything they do is on display. We then discussed how different people might react to it, as newcomers would obviously be fairly reluctant to do everything while be watched by others, but people born in this world would more likely be used to being on display and so would be far more comfortable doing whatever it is they do while being watched. We then discussed how this might be applied to a game, and Richard suggested a stealth based one where you’re sneaking around trying not to be seen by others outside your glass house.
After this, Adam then talked to each of us about our chosen research word and how we were all getting on. He then posed our word to the rest of the class and got suggestions from everybody as to what they found interesting about it. When it came to my turn, Adam liked the fact that I had moved away slightly from the fear aspect, and I also got quite a useful suggestion from my fellow students that I then decided to carry forward into research; how would we react as humans to something unknown?
This was something I had touched upon briefly during my Case Studies, but not looked into in depth. To start with, I looked into articles by PsychologyToday and discussions on forum boards, and came to the conclusion that we usually react with fear and/or panic. The question was – why? After looking a little deeper (into both fictious and non fictious examples) I then found that it’s usually our “fight or flight” response that does it. Our minds see something unknown, and don’t want to take the risk that it might be a threat, so we respond with fear or action towards destroying it. It’s in our nature, essentially.
I found this extremely interesting, and with it I suddenly had a fair few avenues I could potentially go down research-wise.
Reflection On The Week
Week Four has been a very useful one. It was a little wobbly towards the end (mainly because of the small “brick wall” I hit with Trepidation) but overall it was really good. I dived pretty deeply into the idea of Trepidation and “The Unknown” and learnt a great deal about it as well as how we as humans react to it, and more importantly why. With the idea of how and why the Unknown as a concept works the way it does nailed down, I now have a pretty solid springboard to use for further research and even potential game mechanics down the road. My main task for next week is to create a solid presentation to show to my fellow Games students in order to get them really interested in my subject. All-in, I reckon that the whole “Human Reactions” aspect to Trepidation or even just the “limiting the senses” aspect of the unknown could make for a very interesting game mechanic or even just a springboard into something else. The presentation and reactions to it will hopefully shine a light onto where I should go next, but so far Trepidation has been an intriguing and quite intellectually stimulating subject for research, and I look forward to seeing where I will go next with it.