By Dr. Kristen Lillvis
Amanda Fannin was tasked with using Adobe Spark to make an argument about agency in a work of electronic literature. Throughout the course, students had been introduced to electronic literature created on a variety of platforms, and Fannin combined her new knowledge of electronic literature with her existing interest in horror games to create her Spark page. Fannin argues that Michael Lutz’s Twine game my father’s long, long legs creates an effective horror game by slowly eroding the player’s agency and, accordingly, sense of control and hope.
The assignment asked students to develop their arguments through a media-specific analysis of their chosen texts, and Fannin successfully investigates both the aesthetic and technical elements of Lutz’s game. One particularly strong point of analysis comes during Fannin’s examination of an illuminated cursor that functions as a flashlight during a portion of the game. Fannin considers the aesthetic effect of the cursor/flashlight, making links to other horror games and visual elements that signal hope, and she also sheds light on the technical choices Lutz made to achieve the aesthetic effect. Bringing together the aesthetic and technical elements not only in her written analysis but also her screenshots helps those who interact with her Spark page understand the psychological and technological complexity of Lutz’s game.
Each time I return to Fannin’s Spark page, I find myself impressed by her analysis of Lutz’s aesthetic and technical elements as well as her own choices about her Spark page’s aesthetic and technical elements. While the free version of Adobe Spark does not allow for much personalization, Fannin made decisions about the theme, font, and images that contributed to her investigation into a horror game. In fact, Fannin’s Spark page won second place in the multimedia category in the 2017 Maier Outstanding Writing Awards competition at Marshall University.