I chose to play Colonial Gardener for this assignment. It reminded me of Nintendo’s Gardening Mama which I am not ashamed to admit that I was a tad bit addicted to when it first came out. (That is no longer the case.) Bryan Alexander, in New Digital Storytelling spoke about “immersion,” and how it “must progress over time.” (pp. 92) I got this sense of immersion from this colonial gardening game. Granted, it is a child’s game. However, the sense of urgency to tend to the plants was definitely there. The sound was calming, until a plant needed to be watered or weeded. When it got to be too much, the plants started to weep, and then die if I didn’t get to them in time. (Yep, just like Gardening Mama.) It may sound silly, but while I was in the game I felt that sense of urgency. And if a plant died, I felt it. Alexander states that “cut scenes, sound, and immersion…contribute to realizing [the] chapter 1 definition of story, including engaging an audience emotionally, progressing in time, and building a sense of meaning for certain audiences.” (pp. 94) The audience is clearly children, there is progression in the game, and emotional involvement is almost certain, even for an adult. The cut scenes were tailored for a child, of course, but that’s where I felt the most, I think, because if your plants died, it cuts to a scene of a weeping farmer holding a dead plant. As a historian, all I could picture was starving Pilgrims that first winter, because that was pretty much what was being implied.
I enjoyed the game. It was simple, so a child could definitely relate and picture him or herself as the colonial gardener. The sense of urgency created that emotional tie and facilitated the progression of the game. I thought it was a good way to maybe introduce a child to the dilemmas of providing for oneself in colonial times. Lives depended on good gardeners, so to speak. This game confirms that.