Queerskins (+ update on my own elit)

Queerskins is an elit by Illya Szilak from 2012. It is a hypertext story using javascript and having audio. Under tech notes it is stated that the piece works best in the Chrome browser. After the web design classes I had, I know that when creating websites it is important to make sure they work well with all (popular) browsers. Therefore I decided I would use Firefox to see if I would discover any issues.

According to the author’s statement, Queerskins is “partly based on Szilak’s experiences as an HIV physician” and “tells the story of Sebastian, a young gay physician from a rural Missouri Catholic family who dies at the beginning of the epidemic.”

Click here to discover Queerskins on your own: http://www.queerskins.com/#title

As I opened the website, I got the choice between a love story and a novel. Since I do not have the equipment needed for virtual reality, I was left with one choice – the novel.

I open up the novel and see several pictures and movies along with the names of the chapters at the bottom of the screen. The pictures and movies expanded when hovered over, some more than others. Clicking them does nothing, so I clicked on the first chapter at the bottom of the screen instead.

After the page loads, I see several videos, a letter or diary entry and a note stacked on top of each other.  And because I chose another browser than recommended, I had to open it in Chrome to see if things were on top of each other there too. They were. So obviously it was done on purpose. It seems like it does not matter very much which browser is used.

The rest of the story goes by the same way. Each page presents you with images, movies with sound and letters/notes. You drag things around to dig out everything and get information. It kind of feels like you are going through someone’s personal stuff, either their room or just the stuff on their phone or computer. For people who like to explore and be nosy without risking being caught, this way of exploring a piece of elit is kinda fun. Now I am not nosy myself, but sure, at times I can be curious just like anyone else. This way of discovering elit was interesting.

All in all, this elit has many chapters – probably more than most actual books that I have read. And honestly, I cannot say I watched all the movies or read everything. Therefore I cannot claim to know the whole story this elit tells. But I do look forward to learning more about it in class tomorrow.

So, did I like this elit? Kind of. I liked the way it had chapters and movies with sound telling some parts of the story, and diary entries/letters telling other parts. But the layout felt messy to me and made the elit more difficult to discover and making sure you did not miss anything. There might be a good purpose behind it, but considering the amount of chapters it creates a lot of work for the reader if determined to find everything.

The story, from what I gathered, seems interesting and has different themes compared to the other elits I have discovered so far. I like variety, so that is a good thing.
Update on my own piece of elit
I have decided upon several changes since my last blog entry.

First off, I was recommended to try out Inklewriter instead of Twine. I first tried out Twine and found it a bit difficult to figure out, but still manageable. Inklewriter is without a doubt more user-friendly though. Also, it seems the need for coding is not as present with Inklewriter as with Twine. However, I am concerned with the possibilities for customization and design when it comes to Inklewriter. My design skills using css are limited, but I think maybe I would prefer using what css I know instead of using a default design from Inklewriter?

However, Twine’s set-up and way of showing what you have done so far seems very messy and hard to keep track of. With Inklewriter it seems much easier to keep track of what I have done and not. Therefore I think I will end up Inklewriter after all. However, if anyone knows of customization possibilities when it comes to design – do tell! Maybe I just did not watch enough tutorials…

Another change is that I last time wrote that the story would consist of poems with clickable words, where the reader clicks a word within the poem and is taken to a new poem and so on. However, I started thinking and decided that this would not be very interactive and would make the reader feel like their path was chosen more at random than actually making choices. Therefore the story will be made up of poems telling most of the story itself, but with consequences written after the poem and then the reader will get to make a choice on what to do next (usually two choices, but sometimes more and at times only one). This means that the poems still will be a bearing element of the story, but more interactivity. I think the reading experience will be more fun this way, as well.

I have started mapping out the story, and as I have went along I have had to write a few new poems as well as making various versions of a few of them to fit the storyline (depending on which choices are made). I will probably have to write even more poems as I go on with mapping, but for now I have several I have to fit in somewhere. I have also started writing down choices and where in the story they happen, and which consequences will happen with which choice.

I am not done mapping yet, but as I map it out I also get it into Inklewriter so I will not have to do it later at a time where I have started to forget ideas. It also makes it easier for myself to see the progress I make, which I find very inspiring and motivating. Therefore, my elit is an actual elit and in working order – up to a certain point. It is FAR from finished.

Finally, the elit has a working title. It will probably be changed sooner or later, but for now it at least has a name. It might stick, it might not. We will just have to wait and see. I usually do not name things until they are finished, to make sure the name fits well – but a working title could be useful I guess.


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