Performance concept – Hostage

Taking into account the study contained within this blog, I will begin documenting performance concepts within this blog for further development.

For this first concept, I propose a take on a much used horror concept in filmic examples, however reflect on how to make this a mixed reality experience.

The idea, from a given narrative is simple, and more rooted in immersant experience than a specific outcome, seeing how people interact with the given narrative in a situation in which they are under pressure.

The reason for this chosen narrative is that it is basic enough to allow for development, as well as being a common horror narrative that has proven it’s effectiveness in films and video games. Even at a primitive level, video games often adopted similar plots, such as Super Mario Bros. in which Mario has to locate the character of princess Peach.

Given Narrative

The given narrative for this concept is simple, in that it consists of a hostage situation. The role of the ‘hostage’ will be a perceived live feed of a hostage, in reality this will likely be a pre-recorded piece of footage, played on a monitor in a space. The aim of the interaction, is to get the immersant to identify where to find the captive.

Interaction/Feedback Loop

The interaction will come between the immersant taking on the role of someone trying to save the captive, and input from another entity, as the captor. The role of the captor may be delivered in a number of different ways: this may be an actor or individual conversing and giving small pieces of information, interwoven with free-flowing conversation.

In this instance, communication may be be either audio feed, or potentially via a text chat system, similar to what is used in ‘Skype’ and other such chat systems. What will be key is how clues can be delivered throughout the interaction. I propose that for this it would be beneficial to work from a ‘score’ for the role of the captor. Therefore within the free flowing dialogue between the characters will be key information for identifying the location of the captive. These may be numerical, musical, alphabetical etc. Perhaps it would be useful to consider examples of real world serial killers, such as that of the ‘Zodiac’ killer who operated in the United States in the 1960’s. The Zodiac killer used a codex in order to deliver messages to police relating to his crimes. If we adopt this concept, it may be ideal for the delivery of key information for location. However, it may be argued that in order for the free-flowing, alterbiography conversation to be affective it would benefit from traditional use of language, with this symbolic codex concept utilised sporadically in physical and digital delivery to the immersant seeking answers.

The ideas of symbolic happenings and clues has been used in horror for a long time, both in filmic examples and in video games. If we consider, for example, Silent Hill 2 (Konami, 1999) multiple small pieces of information are hidden within the interactions with different characters. It is important to identify how this information will be delivered throughout the experience, as this will be a key element. In providing a number of physical and digital clues, we can offer a number of different objects in the ‘real world’ that can be interacted with, furthering the possibilities for alterbiography to progress.

When we consider the communication of this concept, it may be that we approach the possibility of using another immersant as the captor. However this could prove to be difficult, in this instance the idea of a score would be difficult to implement, but could add an additional emotional and affective layer to the experience as it would be a two-way piece of worked shared between two immersants solely and not any sort of actors. Perhaps in providing each immersant with information about their character and leaving the progression open to interpretation would create a more varied work. This said, without a clear structure or score it will be down to physical/digital clues to provide key information to the other user.


In my research of emotional affect and building narratives, it was clear that there needs to be intended affect, as well multiple trajectories for the experience. In the system described above the emotional affect is rooted in the act of trying to gather relevant information to further the story. The multiple trajectories come in the conversational element of the work. By not having too much of a fixed and programmed response, and allowing the immersant to drive the conversation in different directions. The next creative step in developing this concept may be to complete a timeline/score.




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