Student Reflection – “The Impact of Lack of Choice in ‘my father’s long, long legs'” (8.1)

By Amanda Fannin

“I followed the sound of digging” was written to discuss design choices regarding agency in an interactive horror short story and why they were so effective. Typically, when looking at horror media, I would examine themes and symbolism, and how they’re used. It’s during this course that I was introduced to the concept of agency, and including how we interact with a digitally born text into analysis. In following with the assignment, I focused on how the reader interacts with this particular text, down to looking into the page’s source code to see the programming behind part of the narrative’s “hope spot.”

my father’s long, long legs is a short piece of interactive horror which revolves around a father who is mysteriously compelled to dig tunnels in the basement under the family home. Throughout the story, you can click on certain phrases or words, which can be linked to other games (especially other Twine-based games) where this would normally bring up branching paths and giving the reader some sense of choice. Lutz uses this instead to stifle the reader, allowing them to feel the same desperation the main character feels, especially towards the end. The reader begins to realize as they go on that none of the choices they make have any real bearing on the story, and that it will end the same way every time.

The project involved multiple playthroughs of the game to confirm that none of the choices had any impact on the story. This also involved reading what walkthroughs were available and accounts from others who played the game as well. I tried to have the Spark project keep a horror theme as well. I was lucky to find the image that I did for the header–free under creative commons, and it ties heavily into the “flashlight” portion of the narrative. Spark allows users to upload video, however, I felt it best, given the type of media being analyzed, to use individual screenshots instead. I felt that a sudden video would be jarring and break the flow of the Spark page, and take readers out of it for just a moment. Spark was very easy to learn, and user-friendly, and I can definitely see myself using it again for other projects.

If I could do anything different, I would like to compare my father’s long, long legs another of Lutz’s works, The Uncle who Worked for Nintendo, which is based almost entirely around branching paths and multiple endings, all while still being an effective horror game. I would like to compare how the same author uses two completely different methods of storytelling in the same medium to create works of horror fiction.


In class discussion of the assignment

Research involving multiple playthroughs of the game, reading walkthroughs, looking into the source code

Initial draft


2nd draft

Entering essay into Spark page, which included design choices and going back to the game to take necessary screenshots

Submission of project link for grading