This week I chose to examine and critique Mountain Rescue. As a child of the 80s, I spent many hours reading “choose your own adventure” books. It is one of my favorite genres of books and I have spent a lot of time daydreaming about producing a digital version of something similar using a platform such as Adobe Captivate. So when I clicked on Mountain Rescue and quickly figured out what it was, I was enthralled. This resource is a self-directed, branching narrative experience that uses multiple platforms. Our theme in class this week is ‘Multimodality’, so this fits nicely within this theme as it uses phone, text, and email. Mountain Rescue was a demo that was released during DevLearn 2015, but the company which produced it, Conducttr, produces full-scale versions of branching narratives for clients.
Upon clicking on the link on Canvas for Mountain Rescue, I was greeted with a large image which showed several men in obvious trouble with instructions to call a phone number in order to save them.
I was extremely impressed by this, as I have never even imagined calling a phone number in any part of digital storytelling in elearning. When I called, it rang several times and then a message began playing that was recorded by someone who was frantically saying that they were stuck somewhere. The recorded message was a little difficult to understand as it was recorded by someone with a very strong Australian accent. The person requested that I text them my email address so they can send me the weather report.
I received a text with a URL for the weather report, as well as an email with the same URL in it. The weather report said that the location where these men were stranded was currently experiencing blizzard-like conditions with a threat of an avalanche. My phone began receiving texts from the number with a narrative asking me whether they should check lockers or the kitchen for anything useful, go outside, or wait inside for rescue. I went through several of these scenarios, in which the stranded men did not find anything useful inside, but they were able to build a fire. At one point I finally had them go outside, where they walked a bit and found a car that had no keys inside. I directed them to go back inside the chalet and wait for help by the fire, as the options for the narrative seemingly ran out.
After a short time, I received a poorly written (on purpose) text message which alerted me that an avalanche had struck the chalet and their head was bleeding. I then received another text which said that “Your friends were alive inside the chalet when an avalanche struck. They did not survive. Find out how you did by visiting us at booth #146” The invitation for the user to go to the booth to find out how he or she did adds another element of multimodality. It is inviting the user to have a face-to-face experience with the developers. I thought this was really interesting and I wonder what kind of information was shared at the booth, after the actual game play ended on the mobile device.
I thought this experience was incredible. I did not expect to play anything like this and it has opened my mind to new possibilities for digital storytelling. I have so many questions about how they set this system up. I want to know more about their full-scale branched narrative products, as Mountain Rescue was just a short demo version. The text message questions asking me to provide direction on what they were to do remind me of old Commodore 64 adventure games I played as a kid. I think this type of platform has so much potential for various uses across many types of media platforms. I plan to research this style of learning experience further and find out what other types of products are available that are similar to this awesome one.