Senior Thesis by Jason Corbett

Presentation Event

Thesis Abstract

How does online media change the nature of human interactions? Emerging research indicates that online interactions bypass many of the cues and feedback from face-to-face interactions that have developed through the course of human evolution. Communication without this feedback encourages different forms of expression and communication in pursuit of raw unfiltered validation from others.

To investigate this dynamic, I have developed a prototype of a video game titled I Need Likes To Live. This video game adopts conventional game play mechanics of controlling an avatar to explore an environment from a top-down camera perspective. I Need Likes To Live merges these traditional game play mechanics with themes and mechanics of online social media including: collecting, reposting and sharing content; engaging with followers; behavior reinforcement through follower feedback. These elements of social media share many common characteristics with the mechanics of games, and placing social media inside of a game environment exposes some of the gamified aspects of social media platforms.

As the title suggests, I Need Likes To Live is about highlighting the addictive nature of social media. Some recent experiments suggest that leaving social media platforms leads to a happier and more content life for many people. As a piece of interactive entertainment, there are a variety of options and outcomes for the player. As in the real world, the player’s avatar in I Need Likes To Live may thrive as a social butterfly, find an uneasy emotional limbo, or fail to meet their emotional needs. However, as a piece of interactive entertainment with an artistic statement to make, I Need Likes To Live critiques that entire model and value system, and in each of these outcomes, the player is encouraged to step back and consider how social media may be integrated into their life.

© 2015 Jason Corbett