Find Maria Rivera is a narrative, puzzle-based instillation which follows the story of the disappearance of a water witch from Visalia, CA. Situated between Escape The Room games and Participatory Theater, like Punch Drunkâ€™s Sleep No More, Find Maria Rivera explores themes of environmentalism, mythology, and CSI. The piece leverages responsive objects, web experiences and audio to draw in the participant in a mysterious and emerging story experience. The story takes place in the central valley of California with the backdrop of the looming drought and water crisis. As the user enters the instillation they will be presented with a series of clues and puzzles in a CSI investigation room. The participant will explore the physical objects, text, mobile websites, and audio to unravel the mystery.
I am adapting the Rusalka myth of a fallen water bearer to be set in the current day Central Valley of California. California is experiencing the worst drought in decades, which is the issue that started my exploration for my Design and Technology thesis. The narrative of the game follows the disappearance of a water witch, Antonia Rivera, from the farming town of Visalia. Her friends and family set out to find her and they enlist the player to help. Some believe she has become a Rusalka because of the strange artifacts and evidence they find while looking for her. The player will search for her and uncover dark truths about what she has become and what has become of the environment and water that they depend on.
The game is the labor of love of one Niki Selken. The models for the characters in the game were hand picked from Niki's classmates and family members. She had some helpful coaching from teaching mentors John Sharp, her thesis advisor and Nicholas Fortungo, her game-narrative teacher.