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Robert Burns literary fellow Kathryn van Beek's new click-a-path story takes 'players' on a series of adventures around Ōtepoti Dunedin.

Robert Burns literary fellow Kathryn van Beek’s new ‘click-a-path’ adventure story takes readers on a distinctly Dunedin adventure with a different ending every time.

The initiated may remember interactive adventure stories from their childhood, and the sensation of flicking forwards and backwards in a library book, and this story follows that format but with a new digital platform and a grown-up edge.

The ManyEnding Story is brought to life online in collaboration with English Honours tauira Jacob Cone and photographer Kristina Simon.

It's only through doing the Robert Burns fellowship that I was able to meet Jacob and get the story out there,” Kathryn says.

“Without the Burns the story would have just stayed in my drawer forever, but through my connection with the English department I met Associate Professor David Ciccoricco, who has a real interest in interactive and online fiction.

“Dr Ciccoricco introduced me to the wonderful tauira Jacob, who just finished his honours and is coming to do his masters next year. Jacob put it all together on a system called Twine with a free to access custom URL.”

In the story the reader assumes the mantle of a 31-year-old Ōtepoti-based graphic designer and lizard enthusiast who is trying to ‘level up’ her life by collecting all five possible ‘adult points’: a career, a partner, a child, a house and creative fulfilment.

“The idea came to me while I was learning about interactive fiction over the course of my doctorate by professional practice at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The experience really brought home the notion that our lives are far less in our control than we would like to believe,” Kathryn says.

This is the fundamental message behind the story.

In the click-a-path story ‘players’ can do everything ‘right’ and still end up being metaphorically or literally eaten by a shark, but on the flip side they can finish the story happy and fulfilled without ticking every box, or collecting every adult point.

“Of the 25 possible endings there is one that wins all five points, but that isn’t my favourite.

“My personal favourite sees the protagonist getting only three points, but being happy and fulfilled and I hope it might spark thoughts about our definitions of success.

“The story doesn’t have a value system, it doesn’t judge your choices,” Kathryn says.

So the only question that remains is, will you find yourself designing computer games in Toronto, having two beautiful children with a colorectal surgeon, or teaming up with a sexy detective to bust an international smuggling ring?

For more of Kathryn's writing see her blog.

Kōrero by Internal Communications adviser Alice Billington

The story allows 'players' to follow different paths... some of which end happily... and some less so.

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