The story telling in shared house was very much done through notes, symbols, and objects. I was trying to create an experience that would let you learn as much as you wanted to about the character or as little as you wanted. But of course, this came with challenges. I didn’t want to create a game that you would always win by just not interacting, so I had to make an effort to spark the players interest, something much easier than it initially seemed because people just like to find stuff out. This was instead a problem with trying to make them feel guilt for discovering parts of the character that they didn’t want to see. However, I did try and spark the players interest by offering them small pieces of information about the character in spaces that weren’t invading the characters space. For example, the note to Lloyd acting as a window into the character before entering the room, as well as the two notes to the player from Zeke inside the players room. This also came with an invitation into the room to borrow vhs tapes. Letting the player feel ok with entering the room, but this may have made them feel too comfortable about being in the room. But now that the player was interested in the character, when they entered the room, they can see a link to something mentioned in the note to Lloyd, the NES still on. Seeing this makes the house feel more alive and active because it appears as though someone was here recently. It also was a little joke to show that even with the note, Lloyd doesn’t pay attention, giving character to both Lloyd and Zeke. The next things they see is pretty much the whole room, except for things around the corner. The player then has the option to investigate one of the things that they can see or to look around the corner.
If the player chooses to investigate the shelf of vhs’s they can see a variety of tapes, but not the one that Zeke mentions in his notes. These tapes give character to Zeke because they are mostly B movies or cult favourites. The player can then move on from there knowing more about Zeke’s interests. If they investigate the Whiteboard they can discover that it was recently Zeke’s birthday, and they can find a card from Zeke’s friend, mentioning a larger group of friends named the Herd. This characterised both Zeke and his friends as people who enjoy community. On the floor by the whiteboard there are two textbooks for biology and entomology. These tell the player what Zeke is studying and might be interested in. Beneath the TV there is a report card filled with bad marks, showing that Zeke might not be very successful in his studies. On the bedside table there is a postcard from a friend of Zeke’s who is in Rome, this tells the player about Zeke and his friends. He misses the person who sent the postcard because it is on his bedside table where he can read it at night. Just below this postcard in the drawers, there is a BOYZ magazine, which can show what Zeke may be more interested in reading at night. This is more hidden because it is in a drawer where people have to make a more conscious decision to find it. To see any more of the room, the player now needs to go around the corner. When entering this side of the room, they can see the shelf at the far end of the room, the drawers and the desk. On the desk there is a todo list, which characterises Zeke as someone who gets distracted and needs a list. This todo list combined with most of the sticky notes tells the player that Zeke likes to doodle nonsense. The is an in tray on the desk filled with scrap paper, underneath this however is a draft letter to Zeke’s crush Antony. It is mostly hidden by the scrap paper, but showing enough to make the player interested. Over on the Pc there is a stocky note that shows the combination for the lock in the centre of the room, along with a few other little things that further the doodling. On the shelf there is another report card, this one with much better grades, the original intention of this was to show that Zeke hides his failures but keeps his successes close to his work space. But it could be interpreted in many ways because they lack details such as dates. The code for the lock appears on both the report cards as the second half of Zeke’s id number. On the shelf there is also the copy of ReAnimator that Zeke mentions in his note in the player’s room. This is on the shelf to make the player explore more about the room to find it. Next to it there is also two pictures and a note. The two pictures are of Zeke and his brother skateboarding. Showing that Zeke has a good relationship with his brother and enjoys Skating. The note is a letter to his parents. This letter is kind of abstract and requires more information to interpret fully. It is a reaction to Zeke’s fears about coming out to his parents, he believes that they would not accept him due to their faith. He then references the fact that they are divorced and can’t even love each other. He references a bible verse Matthew 7:3 talking about hippocrates and how they shouldn’t comment on him when they aren’t perfect either. This is all in his head of course, as he is a character that writes things down before he says them when he is afraid or nervous. In the drawers there is only one drawer with interesting things. This is a bible accompanied by a note that expresses Zeke’s feelings about his faith conflicting with his sexuality. This shows a lot about Zeke, obviously. On the floor next to the shelf there is a note that describes Zeke’s confusion with his label, and shows his small journey to fitting with the label bisexual.
Lastly, there was the chest. Inside there was 4 objects, a tape two notes and a picture. The tape was called Sex in Chains, a silent film from German 1928. The picture is of an ex girlfriend, Marsha. This is signified by crossing out the name in a heart. The two notes were a break up note from Marsha, and a draft coming out letter to Zeke’s parents. These being hidden away shows a lot about Zeke and what he is willing to put on display and what he hides. He doesn’t want people to know he isn’t over Marsha, but he also isn’t ready to tell people his sexuality.
There was so many secrets hidden in the room that most people wouldn’t find them. This means that each person constructs a different image of Zeke. They aren’t being told things about Zeke, they are learning themselves.