This is My Memory of First Heartbreak, Which I Can’t Quite Piece Back Together is a graphic memoir—it is an interactive, sequential experience centering around the author’s memory of her first heartbreak. Users see a series of fragmented memory scenes, and after each they can click a “memory trigger object” to connect them to a related scene. Choice has no bearing on the outcome of this story, as the characters inevitably break up every “loop” of the game, but users can choose how to get there and learn more about the characters each time they play.
The project’s scenes are divided into four levels, where each click directs users to the next level until they reach the break up scene (that is, unless they find the short cut!). The levels make a sentence, as in: “Level 1” AND “level 2”, BUT “level 3”, SO “level 4”, THUS “break up”.
I wanted to tell a story that felt like a highly emotional memory, one that we turn over and over in our heads. Coming from a background in information graphics and also having an interest in comics, I am fascinated by how navigational structures and format can add to a reader’s experience and emotional understanding of a narrative. I wanted to work from a real “data set” (aka my own life), but highlight the subjectivity of recollecting such “true” events from the past. This is My Memory of First Heartbreak, Which I Can’t Quite Piece Back Together is a story that I can’t imagine being told any other way. Every time we tell a story from the past, it changes—we change, the world changes, time passes and the actual event is further and further away. We also recall a memory differently depending on what object or feeling triggered the memory.
I feel interested in the idea of attempting to capture that which is uncapturable – I think there is something poetic about the way visual frameworks, such as a pie chart, or a bar chart, want us to think in absolutes, and yet there is so much about real life and identity and memory that cannot really be captured or represented this way. I wondered if I could somehow leverage a structure to help emphasize this idea. This story is based on truth, or what I am saying is somehow true, or at least emotionally true. Users can play loops of the project to enhance their understanding of this blurred, complicated memory of a relationship I recollect for them, hopefully connecting their own personal experience and emotional understanding to various scenes, themes, or specific memory triggers along the way.
Jenny Goldstick - Story, Art & UX Design
Owen Robers - Development (scene coding)
Stephen Betts - Development (inter-scene coding)
Kelvin Fadul - Video Animation Help