Notes From the World’s Fair Hotel

Notes From the World’s Fair Hotel

Notes From the World’s Fair Hotel
Decalcomania
(N. Cassleman, P. Choong, B. Fan, R. Hilu)

Notes From the World’s Fair Hotel is a transmedia game that uses letters, websites, and mobile phones in order to tell the story of a young girl, Cecily Rogers, who traveled to Chicago in 1893 to see the World’s Columbian Exposition and mysteriously went missing–a victim of America’s first serial killer H. H. Holmes. Players are contacted by a man who has stolen Cecily’s letters from a historical society exhibit just before they were to be unveiled to the public. Purporting to have secret knowledge of the fate of Cecily Rogers, this man mails letters to our players in which he presents copies of what he claims are fake letters from the girl that were going to be exhibited to the public, along with puzzles and clues suggesting that Cecily’s story is more complicated than it seems. In search of the truth behind these letters and the mysterious man who has committed this theft, players are taken to sites along the Midway Plaisance and forced to interact in unfamiliar ways with strangers and objects in these locations. Along the way they gather more clues leading them to a final confrontation with the thief–at which time they must make an important decision: turn him in and allow the proper authorities to take care of the situation, or trust this mysterious stranger and intervene to help him uncover the truth about Cecily Rogers.

By juxtaposing the old media of printed letters with the new media of mobile phones, this game aims to maximize player engagement and defamiliarize the associations that have hardened around these technologies. Mobile phones become a way to reengage with public space rather than to shield oneself from it. This “new” technology also becomes a privileged form of gaining access to the “old”–supplementing the player’s awareness of the historical background of the spaces that they regularly inhabit. Ultimately, the technologies engaged in this game aim to create a compelling experience in which players must consider their own sense of agency and responsibility when encountering the claims and plight of strangers with which they often distractedly share the same space.

See the documentation at http://home.uchicago.edu/~ncasslem/decalcomania/

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