You and the creature stand like that for a while. It is difficult to say for how long, as your watch has stopped. \n\nLinear time is functionally meaningless, here in THE MEADOWS. You might as well be a snapshot of history, forever looping and frozen all at once at someone else's behest. \n\nYou go to put the sword back in your #AAH2016 daffodil yellow tote, but find that you can't move. In a fit of desperation to do anything, you start giving the creature your presentation.\n\n"Hello, my name is KATHRYN BREWSTER. I'm an MA student at GOLDSMITHS COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON, where I'm currently pursuing research with the field of..."\n\nYou talk and talk and talk because it is all you know how to do.\n\nEventually the eyes close -- one by one -- a soft ripple of sleep, tired, watchful eyes. \n\n[[You bored the creature to death, but at least you did something, you wannabe Odysseus, you.]]
You frequently check Wikipedia to see how old your idols were when they did their First Big Thing. You're smooth-sailing for the time being, but you better produce some sweet sweet scholarship soon, if you know what I mean! Ha ha ha!!!\n\nAh. \n\n\n[[Don't sweat it, kid.|kathryn brewster]]
Man, we've all got sweaty palms with papers that aren't very good. \n\nIt's all good, bruh. \n\n[[yeah?]]
The SOUND is quiet at first, and it is difficult to make out against the backdrop of humming, but it is there all the same. \n\nA tapping, perhaps? A clicking? The same stiff, hollow noise, over and over again, like a metronome. In the stifling darkness, this noise surrounds you.\n\nYou try and [[peer into whatever distance you can make out]] to see what could be thr source of the noise.
Okay, shout out to Brew Lab, I guess. \n\nYou've only got about forty-five minutes before you need to be in your room, and you haven't even met the conveners yet, and you really shouldn't have another cup of cof-\n\n[[I want. To go. To Brew Lab.]]
(Are you SURPRISED? Did you [[FORGET]] the contents of YOUR BAG?)\n\nYou draw the ancient mariner's sword from your #AAH2016 daffodil yellow tote-bag, and turn to face the monster in the darkness. \n\nAll you can make out clearly are its eyes -- but as your own adjust, you see that there is not much more to be had. \n\nThis creature is entirely eyes.\n\n[["Have Eyes Got News For You," you say.]]\n\nThe creature groans. \n\nKeep your [[eyes on the prize]], KB.
Your name is [[KATHRYN BREWSTER]]. You are [[TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OLD]], and you are completing your MASTER'S DEGREE at GOLDSMITHS COLLEGE, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON in CONTEMPORARY ART THEORY. \n\nThrough some [[MIRACULOUS SET OF CIRCUMSTANCES]], you wrote a paper to present at #AAH2016 about [[VIDEO GAMES]] and [[ART]]. It's [[PRETTY WILD]].\n\nToday is the day of your [[PRESENTATION]]. You are at [[GEORGE SQUARE]]. To your east is [[THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH]], where you will be presenting your paper.\n\nThere are exits [[NORTH]], [[SOUTH]], and [[EAST]]. \n\n
You head in the direction of THE MEADOWS. \n\nEven though you've been to Edinburgh a number of times, you can't recall ever actually setting foot in the meadows, so you decide now is as good a time as any. \n\nYou pass the library, and then before you really realise it, there they are. \n\n[[THE MEADOWS.]]\n\n[[Do you want to turn back now?|main square]]
Oh. \n\nWell. \n\nThe fact of the matter is that nobody is ever really ready to do anything! You got what you got and you fake it 'til you make it. You just kind of have to keep walking forward, and eventually things will start to feel familiar through sheer exposure.\n\n[[But I've got sweaty palms and my paper isn't very good!]]
No, I'm not doing this. \n\nYou put the ID card back into your wallet and return to reality. \n\nGod. \n\n[[):|kathryn brewster]]
Wow! That was weird!\n\nYou are standing at the CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE.\n\nToday is the day of your [[PRESENTATION]]. You are at [[GEORGE SQUARE]]. To your east is [[THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH]], where you will be presenting your paper.\n\nThere are exits [[NORTH]], [[SOUTH]], and [[EAST]].
Okay, all of those were the same thing. I see what you are doing here, but this presentation cannot be avoided. \n\nTurn around. For real. \n\n[[you are right and I will turn around right now]]\n[[you are a sucker and I will not be turning around ha ha]]
You are standing at the CENTRE OF THE UNIVERSE.\n\nToday is the day of your [[PRESENTATION]]. You are at [[GEORGE SQUARE]]. To your east is [[THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH]], where you will be presenting your paper.\n\nThere are exits [[NORTH]], [[SOUTH]], and [[EAST]].
[[You continue walking NORTH anyway.]]
Despite your better judgement telling you to go inside of the building where you are actually giving your presentation, you head SOUTH.\n\nTHE MEADOWS are that way if you [[CONTINUE SOUTH]]. \n[[YOUR BAG]] is heavy on your shoulders, because it is full of things you need to give [[YOUR PRESENTATION]].
It's huge, and imposing, and old. The building in front of you is older than your country, and the spires of its towers rise upwards into the fog. \n\nYou remember your advisor for your undergraduate dissertation -- a small Scottish woman called Joy -- she went here for her undergrad and always spoke very highly of it. \n\nYou feel a litt nauseous.\n\n[[Gotta present that paper, man.|kathryn brewster]]
Are -- are you for real right now? That's what we want to do with our time?\n\nYou realise you're standing in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at your ID, mumbling your own name to yourself, right?\n\nOkay. \n\nFine. Fucking fine, we'll look at the ID more closely. \n\n[[Nice.]]
You head NORTH.\n\nYour bag slips a bit over your shoulder as you start walking, and you shrug it back into place. It holds your COMPUTER, and your NOTEBOOK, and other BAG THINGS, which you need to give your PRESENTATION today. \n\nSpeaking of which -- aren't you heading the wrong way?\n\n[[KEEP WALKING]]\n[[CARRY ON NORTHWARD|KEEP WALKING]]\n[[DON'T TURN AROUND|KEEP WALKING]]
Your improv group from university comes up to perform at the Fringe Festival every year, and this is the venue where you guys perform. It's pretty surreal to see it stripped bare of posters and ticket booths and mascots and people desperately trying to get rid of stacks of flyers. \n\n[[You forget sometimes that Edinburgh exists outside of Festival, like that city from Brigadoon.|kathryn brewster]]
You continue walking NORTH, despite everyone around you telling you that you shouldn't. \n\nWhat's the dealio, KB?\n\n[[I want to go to Brew Lab.]]\n[[I got turned around is all, and now I am ready to go back SOUTH.|main square]]\n[[I don't think I'm ready to do this.]]
YEAH, that's right, your name is KATHRYN BREWSTER. \n\nWhat, [[did you forget]]?\n\n
(for a presentation about the strengths of a viewer agency built up by discerning context clues to form a narrative from the environment, this game lacked a lot of environmental narrative, huh?)\n\nnext time, [[next time|EAST]]
"Are these The Meadows?" You call out to the creature, gigantic, swaying, fleshy mass of eyeballs that it is. \n\nIt blinks in response, but not all the eyes at once. The blink ripples out from its cetnremost eye, a contagion of winks. \n\n"Hello?"\n\nIt leans a bit to the side.\n\n"I'm sorry about the bad pun from before," you say. "It's a reflex."\n\n[[It's true.]]
Exits North, South, and East: Environmental narrative in contemporary art and video games
It's a rectangular piece of plastic, pink gradiating to blue and back to pink again. Above your photo (still unflattering) is the image of a bull. You don't know why, but there it is.\n\nIn the bottom right-hand corner is your signature -- small and cramped -- you remember how awkward it was to hold the electronic pen in your hand, the signature pad not quite getting the nuances of your handwriting. \n\nOn the back, it lists your date of birth, where you were born, and there's a reminder that you are permitted "NO PUBLIC FUNDS."\n\nIs this what you wanted?\n\n[[Yeah, this is the good stuff.]]\n[[I regret this choice.|kathryn brewster]]
You think about how far you have come and how far you still have to go, and how that's okay. \n\nMight as well bite the bullet and get it over with, am I right?\n\nYou head INSIDE. \n\nYou give your [[PRESENTATION.]] \n\nYou DON'T DIE. \n\nYou HIGH-FIVE YOURSELF on the way out. \n\n[[nice]]\n
It's called "Exits North, South, and East: Environmental narrative in contemporary art and--\n\nwait\n\nwait a second\n\nI saw "Looper," this is not going to go that way. \n\n[[Bruce Willis hasn't made a good movie since The Fifth Element, and you stand by that.|kathryn brewster]]
thanks for playing!\n\nI hope it went like this. If it didn't, maybe play again?\n\nxx\nkb
Miraculous set of circumstances: \n\nNovember, 2015. \n\nThere you stood at your window, arms outstretched, receiving a dove sent to you from The Queen Herself. "My dearest," read the note attached to the dove's foot. "Go to the Association of Art Historian's 2016 conference and speak to the masses about video games. You have my blessing child, go."\n\nYou release the dove back into the skies, and snap your fingers. A fully-formed 4500-word paper appears on your desk. It is the raddest paper anyone has ever seen on Environmental Narratives. \n\nYou kickflip on your skateboard and ollie-out up to Edinburgh. \n\nOr maybe there were [[actual circumstances]].\n[[No, that seems right.|kathryn brewster]]
It's an unflattering sepia picture of you without your glasses on superimposed onto a pink piece of plastic with a bunch of official junk written on it. But there it is. Your name. \n\nKATHRYN BREWSTER. \n\nWow. I'm glad we went over that one, aren't you?\n\n[[Let's get back to business.|kathryn brewster]]\n[[No, I want to look at my residence permit more closely.]]
Why did Rhianna and Kanye West and Paul McCartney team up to make that one song? It's like, it's not even a good song. \n\n[[yeah you right|kathryn brewster]]
WOW\n\nokay really I mean WOW \n\n[[r u d e|you are a sucker and I will not be turning around ha ha]]
You've got:\n\nYOUR COMPUTER\nYOUR NOTEBOOK\nYOUR BAG OF PENS\nYOUR IPHONE CHARGER\nYOUR WALLET\nA SWORD\nYOUR NATIONAL RAIL CARD\nPARACETEMOL\nTHE AAH PROGRAMME AND TIMETABLE\n\n[[That's it.|THE SWORD]]
[[When threatened, your puns are pretty weak, my dude.|THE SWORD]]
You've got:\n\nYOUR COMPUTER\nYOUR NOTEBOOK\nYOUR BAG OF PENS\nYOUR IPHONE CHARGER\nYOUR WALLET\nA SWORD\nYOUR NATIONAL RAIL CARD\nPARACETEMOL\nTHE AAH PROGRAMME AND TIMETABLE\n\n[[That's it.|SOUTH]]
You CARRY ON. \n\nYour bag grows only heavier as you carry on forward through the inky blackness of THE MEADOWS, as if it is subject to some laws of gravity which no longer affect you, but rather merely the items on your person. \n\nAs you CARRY ON, it only gets darker, your bag growing heavier, the towers of the University shrinking behind you into nothingness.\n\nIn the distance, beyond the unrelenting hum of numbing static of the universe expanding, you think you can hear [[a sound]].
The creature now asleep, you are able to sheath your sword in your tote bag, nestled between your pens. \n\nYou put your hands on your hips, and look down at the sleeping beast, a pool of eyeballs at your feet. \n\n"I scream for Eye-Scream," you say, and it is still not a good pun.\n\nPerhaps now it is time to [[turn back?]]
yeah.\n\nyou ready to [[head back|main square]] now?
Why not?\n\n[[I don't think I'm ready to do this.]]
Wow, okay, I guess you are very stressed because of this conference and it has turned you into an idiot! That's okay! We all get stressed sometimes!\n\nYou pull out your [[BIOMETRIC RESIDENCE PERMIT]] which grants you LEAVE TO STAY within the UNITED KINGDOM.
Exits North, South, and East: Viewer agency in contemporary art and video games\n\nby [[kathryn brewster]]
It is as if it knows you are looking for it. \n\nAs soon as you press your hand to your forehead, squint your eyes, and lean into the dark, wet, spring air, you feel a presence behind you, breathing down your neck. \n\nIt is growling, low, and hungry. \n\nYou turn, slowly, remembering [[THE SWORD]] in your bag.
THE MEADOWS are actually A HUGE, BLACK EXPANSE, stretching for miles and miles into the infinite void of the cosmos. \n\nIt strikes you as strange, perhaps, that you have never noticed a SWATH OF BLACKNESS, LIKE A SCAR UPON THE SCOTTISH LANDSPACE, BARREN, USELESS, YIELDING NO FRUIT here before. \n\nDo you [[CARRY ON]]?\n[[Back to safety!]]
Okay fine, Jesus Christ, you go to Brew Lab. The coffee is overpriced but delicious, and the barista is attractive. \n\nCongratulations, you went to Brew Lab. Can we [[go back|main square]] now?\n\n[[No.]]
Actual circumstances:\n\nNovember 2015.\n\nYou nervously click send on an e-mail with a slapdash half-written abstract attached.\n\n'Yeah, I just want to get in the habit of sending these out,' you tell your partner over dinner that night. 'I fully expect to get rejected.'\n\nThree weeks later, you realise the extent of your Mistake, and now you must write two qualifying papers, a master's thesis, and a conference paper to be presented alongside a panel of scholars in your field far more senior than you in a mere matter of months.\n\nNEAT-O, EVERYONE\n\n[[Yeah, that is how it happened.|kathryn brewster]]
It's like you don't want to actually give this presentation at all, do you?\n\nWhatever, KB. You do you, and if doin' you is going SOUTH, let's [[go SOUTH|CONTINUE SOUTH]].
You turn around, and head the direction you remember to be NORTH. \n\nYou can feel a weight being lifted from you as you walk, the sky brightens, the sounds of static give way to car tyres on asphalt taking quick turns, the rush of water splashing at the curb.\n\n[[Huh!|Back to safety!]]