Talk and Play 02: Horror and Hypertext

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 Vanderbilt Center for Digital Humanities (344 Buttrick Hall), 7:00-9:00 pm

Until Dawn Poster

Join us on All Hallow’s Eve for a night of horror! During the second Talk and Play event for the 2017/2018 academic year, we’ll be playing Supermassive Games’ Until Dawn (2015), a trope-laden, branching-narrative, survival-horror game.

Until Dawn is centered on a group of 8 teenagers who return to a cabin at a ski lodge one year after a horrible accident. Shortly after arriving, the group finds themselves hunted by deranged killer, and must find a way to survive. The player alternates between these characters, looking around for helpful clues, talking with other characters, and making quick decisions in cinematics with “quick-time” events.

The game also uses what it calls the “Butterfly Effect” system to track player decisions and actions and alter the story accordingly. Based on the idea from chaos theory that small changes in one part of a nonlinear, dynamic system can result in large differences at a later time and in a different place, the game claims to offer “hundreds of endings.” During our discussion, we’ll talk about the history of ideas about “branching narratives,” referencing work about the technology and theory of hypertext in particular. We’ll also talk about the game’s reliance upon the tropes and language of cinema, and ask how our participation in the game changes our relationship to the conventions of the horror genre.

The event will begin at 7pm, and after food and a short introductory presentation, we’ll play ~1 hour from the first few chapters. As always, anyone interested in games, regardless of previous experience, is welcome and encouraged to attend.

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Costumes are optional but strongly encouraged!


Content warning: some pretty gory violence against men and women, as well as a lot of jump scares with flashing lights and loud sounds. It’s also a scary game.