Student Reflection – Ultra-Ego: Agency in Alter Ego (8.1)

“Ultra Ego: Agency in Alter Ego” was one of the unit projects I created for my Digital Literary Studies class, which was an assignment to create an Adobe Spark project about any piece of e-lit using media-specific analysis.

Alter Ego was a game I was familiar with prior to this project. I had stumbled across it during my first semester of college, but had never really thought too critically about it otherwise, so it definitely made me feel much more comfortable to work with a text I’d already spent a lot of time going through.

This project drove home a sentiment I already felt about games and the gaming industry, which is that while we’re looking for stories to escape into, we also need to be able to see ourselves in these stories. Alter Ego never tries to depict the persona, this other “you”, in the game aside from a black and white photo of a fetus in the very beginning, but it’s painfully obvious that the persona is white even without a photo.

The company currently distributing it attributes this to the fact that a minority’s story would not be the story of Alter Ego, which is why I’m pleased to see the amount of minority driven indie stories being released into the market this past year. When it comes down to it, choices in development matter, and sometimes what the player chooses isn’t as interesting as the people who came up with the options in the first place.

Ultimately, this project and the experiences surrounding it made me certain of how valuable Digital Humanities is in both academics and for the games industry as a whole. Taking the time to break down and think critically about the media we love to consume is an important step in creating better, more inclusive, stories and worlds for players to experience and explore.