directions is a chatbot for discussing memories, growth and identity.
by cecile richard
with help from andrew gleeson
made for the 2021 Emerging Writers' Festival's closing event 'Be Kind, Rewind' presented in partnership with Next Wave, this interactive experience* was originally meant to be displayed alongside a booth where visitors could write letters to their past self, with the chatbot serving as a companion in the process of writing the letter.
'Be Kind, Rewind' was also an event for celebrating the 18th anniversary of the Emerging Writers' Festival, hence why directions meticulously emulates a circa 2003 MSN interface. yeah, it was that long ago.
*this edition is slightly different from the original 2021 version i made for EWF, with some typo fixes and minor re-editing to fit something resembling a "legacy" edition.
by the way, you can still write a letter to your past self, if you want.
|Tags||Internet, Text based, Twine|
|Average session||A few minutes|
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why am i crying. i didn't even write a letter. all i did was say I love you to the past self in my subconscious.
didn't mean to sound emo there. anyways, it felt as if i was talking to a real person. the "uh" and the personal opinion made it sound realer. but after all, c_cile is simply another version of you. honestly, in games like these, i forget what the person said. i forget the meaning. completely. but it still affects me. thank you, cecile.
Here's my letter. It's... pretty personal.
Dear past me,
You amaze me. You’re so full of emotion, so vibrant, and wherever you go you bring your emotions with you. You’re capable of expressing such perfect joy, such deep sadness, such complete fear… and such consuming anger. Yet, sometimes your emotions feel like too much to bear, and sometimes they overtake you. At times it can be difficult to separate your rage from yourself.
This can be really scary, I know that all too well. I see you reckoning with yourself, trying to figure out if you’re a good person but never having the time, energy, knowledge, or means to do so. You wonder if you’re wallowing in sin you can’t escape from, sadness you can’t identify, on your own volition. But your future self has discovered it is not your fault, and I know that you are not the passionate anger that attacks her family, the injustice screaming to get her way, the complete disregard for others.
When you explode at others, that is your anger overtaking you, and I am afraid you do not yet have the tools to surpass it. The good news is though, as you get older, and you get support from your therapists and doctors, you’ll be able to see who you are. That person is joyful, and kind, and she is down there inside of you just waiting to be set free. The way others perceive you is not entirely true, and in the end it is up to you to find out and claim who you are to the world.
By the time you’re able to start discovering yourself, some sad things are going to have happened. I’m not going to mince words (we’ve never grown out of that habit): you’re going to experience pain you never thought was possible. You’re going to be beaten down by others just for being your vivacious, outgoing self. You’re going to grieve people you’ve loved. And you’re going to have revelations that completely change how you see your self-expression and identity, while having those revelations denied by everyone you know in real life.
Things aren’t going to be perfect in the future by any means. And yet, God has given us so many blessings. I have an entire network of support I can go to when I feel like my immediate family won’t understand. I have the knowledge and coping skills I need to navigate everyday life. And I may not be entirely out of my cocoon of anxiety and emotions yet, but I will make sure, for both of us, that I will blossom into who we were always meant to be.
It may not seem like it, but you’ve been so brave, little one. You’ve carried the torch for your older self to make it here. So you can set down all of your emotions, all of your pain, and let yourself live in the future.
It’s rocky. It won’t be an easy climb. But it will be worth it.
Won’t you join me, Elizabeth?
I needed to hear this today. I knew what I wanted to protect them from, but ... I needed your thoughts on the exercise of writing that letter.
I might try to write a Bitsy game or something like it.
This made me really emotional and let me grow a little. Thank you! Your games and storytelling are something else.
Have you read the book "Namiya zakkaten no kiseki" or „The Miracles of the Namiya General Store"? I think you would love it if you haven't already. It really reminds me of this project.
thank you so much!
also that title sounded familiar to me and i do remember i watched the movie adaptation of it a few years ago. completely forgot about it... and now i want to rewatch/read the book
Wait there's a movie?! I know what i gonna watch tonight. :D
o/ o/ first off- love this so much, it really warmed my heart? dunno how to say it but it's amazing
secondly, it's nice to meet another australian haha- out of the blue ik but we're an endangered species
thirdly, thanks for helping me get through stuff <3 your games and your writings and everything are so- like- yknow the feeling of warmth when you're just alone, but you're enjoying like the view or something? that feeling. thank you <3
Yo! Cw: childhood trauma skiiiiiiip this
Short version: Dear past me, I wish someone got you into checking out audiobooks from the library sooner 🤎
Dear past me,
You stare at the sun. You think it’s a superpower. You have been told you cannot stare at the sun. This
can't == shouldn'tmisunderstanding, it buddies up next to a need to find something you are good at. The need screamed into you like negative space. It’s fine.
It defines your biggest choices, the misunderstanding, not the need. Or so. You have been yelled at. A lot. You have been yelled at about things you are bad at. You have been yelled at about things you are bad at and yet need to do to feel normal. It’s fine.
And you have been yelled at aboutt things every one who yells at you thinks you are bad at, but you have just been underdeveloped in for so long, you actually just need a little more time. More time with the kids in your life who give you ways to cope. Time you’d have to take from kids who give you ways to escape. It’s fine.
You will be kept from those kids. For a long time. You will get yelled at for things you do. You will get yelled at for begging people not to yell at you. The TV will be filled with people yelling as well. It’s fine.
The TV will be yelling as things get inside people. The TV will be yelling as things come out of people. You will wake up to a little girl a 100 irl years older than you shouting “THEM!” over and over at the top of her lungs. You will crawl out of bed. You will go into the living room. You will find the audience of parents asleep. You will turn off the looping DVD. It’s fine.
You will not know what to do. You will know to go outside. You will feel like she’s screaming about you. She will amplify every scream to follow. And every scream to follow will amplify every other. It’s fine.
A whole section of your brain will be remodeled to sense systematically bio signs a human is about to yell at you. Screams are complicated. This system will have to be a 24-hour monitor if it is to work at all. Parts of you you never meet will be gutted. You will choose to purge them and meet something new. It’s fine.
3… 2… 1… You forget whatever they were. You meet the new thing. You use it to activate a null sequence. Grow still. Bloom stillness. Harvest void. Your fine.
By the time you realize you use this sequence far too much, you are homeless, it is your birthday, you are a teen, it is a national holiday, and you are mucking houses and tearing down drywall and tearing out carpet, queer, surrounded by strangers. You find you don’t know how to talk to anyone. You sit on overgrown bleachers in a field flooded with oil from your nations largest mainland oil spill. You find you having found a lot of uses for that new part of your brain. You find it having taken you over. It’s fine.
And it is very helpful.
You find those friends. The ones who give you ways to cope. Words. Audiobooks. Podcasts. Games. You will learn from them. Things like invisibility — things you get so good at — are not super powers. You learn. It’s fine.
“I love you, past me.” It’s something I’ve been saying for a few years now. Any time I see something and feel appreciative. I say that. Any time my life is noticeably imimperceptibly a tad bit easier, I say it. I say it when there is chocolate in a bag. I say it when there is a pair of clean socks. I say it when I surprise myself with a cup of tea I forgot I made. Or a meal in a slow cooker I forgot I started. And I’ll say it again. And I’ll say it tomorrow.
Nothing’s fine. But you did this anyway.
I love you, past me
What a beautiful experience! I need to play more games with computer aesthetics with a story that takes place there. And the final message was nice, a friend told me it was from a book, thanks for making me more educated!
if you’re talking about the final quote it’s actually from a movie!
you can watch it on the internet archive: https://archive.org/details/after-life-1998-1080p-blu-ray-x-265-silence
love the storytelling :)