I had meant to do this on Saturday afternoon on Centennial, but due to personal circumstances and rather inclement weather, I ended up performing this piece on Sunday afternoon in the Curry Student Center. I brought my dear friend Mey along to help me photograph and also operate as emotional support. She ended up doing a lot more though, as she started to call people over. I figured that I had never given her instructions regarding that part, and that people could still ignore her if they wanted, so I let it happen. (It was also a lot more fun that way!) I ended up sitting on a table so as to draw more attention to myself.
Mey tried calling over some people, but some of them told us they were busy and kept moving.
Eventually, a pair of people came over. They were rather unfamiliar with the concept of NPCs giving quests, but I explained that they would have to choose a conversation choice. They chose option 2 – deliver an urgent message! From the message board, they selected the one that read “Let’s meet up soon”. As they came in a pair, the guy who had drawn the message turned to his friend and gave it to her. I had not prepared any of the rewards yet, so I offered them both a hug for their great effort in completing this quest. They seemed rather amused by the whole thing!
The next person who came by also chose option 2. He selected one that was supposed to be a user-generated message. He wrote “Hey! What’s up?” on it and delivered it straight into my hands. I gave him a hug and kept the message.
My next encounter was rather humorous! Somebody walked up with very little cajoling, and with very little explanation selected option 2. He also received the user-generated message template. I laughed when he said that he was going to deliver it to his boss, then gave him a hug.
Next was a girl who seemed very indecisive. She tried asking me which option she should choose, but I just told her that they were all available options. Eventually, she chose option 1 – to defeat the beast! I showed her the page, and she decided that she would level up a small sword to a big sword to defeat it. I hugged her, very proud of her.
My next encounter was with a guy who chose option 2. He got the message that read “Have a lovely day”. He said he knew exactly who he was going to give it to and left immediately after I gave him his reward of a sweet drawing of a diamond I did.
There was a bit of space where I chatted with Mey for a bit and doodled some more future rewards, before a very anxious person came forward. She chose to defeat the beast and illustrated herself poisoning it to death. She received some precious stones (and a hug!) for her efforts.
Next was someone who chose option 2 and received the last user-generated message card. She wrote “the girl sitting on the table made me do it” and delivered it to two people sitting a bit away. She walked away before I could reward her. (Didn’t correct her either.)
Finally, a pair of girls were called over, though one of them seemed very reluctant and kept telling her friend she had somewhere to be. When the curious one asked if all of them were options, and I said yes, the reluctant one asked if even 4 was one. I said yes, and she told me she chose that one, and the two of them left.
Having spent about an hour and having gone through all four conversation options, I decided that I ought to go eat my first meal of the day at 5 PM!
When I first came up with the idea, I was reluctant to actually perform it because of my social anxiety and also because of my preconceptions of what an intervention piece should be like. I thought that I ought to make something more “meaningful”, something that felt more “punchy”. After the positive feedback I got in class though, I felt more confident with the idea. It suited my style, it was fun, and it was something that I felt like I wanted to do.
Reading through the assigned texts, I noticed that most of the pieces seemed to be for the sake of Art or for the sake of challenging some common preconceived conceptions. Based on my own beliefs regarding art, the motivation behind this piece could fulfill the former, but I didn’t necessarily want to “challenge” people’s ideas of reality – I think that something like that deserves more behind it. If I did challenge anybody’s views, it’ll have been an unintentional side effect. What I did want, however, was to bring some uncommon fun into people’s lives. Originally, I was going to stand on Centennial, near the CAMD building, which would have provided me with a lot of people who would have known the context behind my piece. However, since I was doing it in Curry, I brought someone along who got people to come over, which was interesting in its own way. This meant I got some people completely unfamiliar with the concept of NPCs and who were confused with the undeclared mechanics I was operating on, so I got to give some people a quick ‘n dirty tutorial. I wanted to be both obtrusive and unobtrusive at once. Obtrusive enough to be noticed, but unobtrusive enough that I was not the main focus of the interactions. I wanted everything to be on the participant, or the player, the one undertaking the quest and getting a reward for their efforts. Hopefully, it was a fulfilling (if weird) experience for everyone who participated.
A lot of this still stems from the very Fluxus belief that art is experience mixed with my thoughts on NPCs – specifically stationary quest-givers – in games. I’ve always found the concept of an almost always static character created for the sake of furthering a player character’s growth very interesting and also very admirable. I hope I managed to do something like that!