Podcast Twine Game

Escaping the Memes?

Unmasking the memes has returned, but this time it’s interactive. In our podcast from several weeks ago, we discussed the influence of memes on our thoughts and behavior during the COVID-19 Pandemic. We decided to translate this idea into a game using HTML and Twine. The game was designed to see how our personal meme browsing and media consumption feed into social media algorithms which in turn, reflect one’s current view of the pandemic through presentation of polarized political memes, ultimately bolstering their current opinions, whether they are accurate or not. How does this confirmation bias influence our own beliefs about COVID-19, the online social communities we interact with, and how we perceive news?

Can you escape the algorithm? Or are the memes too powerful?

The Experience

“Where are the memes?”

Right away, I tasked myself with finding for memes for our game. The criteria is that the meme must pertain to the pandemic, whether it is about the vaccine, wearing a mask, personal experiences, or the nature virus itself. The meme must also have some sort of message. While browsing through instagram/tiktok/facebook, I asked myself what is the message from this meme? Does it even have a message? Or is it just a funny meme? Is it spreading false information? Is it promoting anti- or pro-mask/vaccine ideals? Was this meme crafted for the anti-maskers or the pros? While I did see some top tier, #rofl COVID meme content, I only select memes which gave a certain message. Our goal was to see how memes influence our view of the pandemic not just to laugh or cringe at the views of others.

You’d think this would be a simple, fun task. Who doesn’t like browsing through funny trash on the internet? This was actually a lot more cumbersome than I’d anticipated. Several weeks ago, several media websites like Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram placed blocks and filters on content pertaining to the pandemic in order to reduce out potential for spreading false information. I started seeing banners and pop-ups like these images below on content containing key pandemic vocabulary like vaccine, mask, and COVID-19.

Instagram adds coronavirus CDC links to posts mentioning virus | Fox  Business
Fox News

While this is a fantastic intervention, it was very tragic for me. All the offensive, false, awful memes I remember seeing at the beginning of the pandemic had been removed. However, I did find several groups on facebook with the exact content I was looking for.

My search for memes was quite an experience. It was a bit of a culture shock to be honest.

Wow, there are people out here who actually believe masks are a hinderance to their freedom. There are really people out here who think wearing a mask is a form of bondage and slavery??? nice..

After a few hours of searching, my collection of memes was complete and could be added into the game. We decided to link the memes to the game rather than embedding them into the game itself.

We used this process of finding memes as a way of brainstorming for our game. As the game is based off of the content we find. The game begins allowing the player to choose the social media they want to use. They can then decide to view a meme based on the username of the poster. We used very distinct names that would provide more than enough insight to tell what kind of content would likely be posted. This game is indeed polarized, which was intentional. We want the player to see how their viewing habits affect the content they see. If the player veered more towards anti-mask/vaccine content, they would ultimately be lead to a more “Fox News” perspective of the pandemic which did indeed lead them to Fox news sites. It was interesting to try to create this aolgorithm using twine, but I believe we pulled it off.

I enjoyed sharing the concept of our game to the class. While it wasn’t yet complete, I think we were able to express the framework and overall concept effectively. I usually get very nervous for presentations, but the comforting atmosphere of the classroom from the students and our professor made things much less stressful.

I think we did a good job conveying our message in our game. However, there was so much more I wanted to do with our game in terms of aesthetics and building a more interesting storyline. I think this was the first assignment I felt like I didn’t give myself enough time to add the details I would’ve liked, which was personally disappointing to me. I feel like the overall appearance and flow of the game doesn’t exactly reflect the type of work I like to put out. Unfortunately, time was not on my side on this assignment. In the future I’d like to make the game feel much more personal and engaging through adding sounds, animations, manipulating the colors and background, and writing the game more like a story.


This was a really fun assignment to take on. I’d always wanted to learn HTML and other aspects of coding, so this was a great learning experience for me. What was different about this assignment and much of this class actually, compared to other classes, was to really focus on your audience and tailor your writing and work to convey a certain message to them through an unfamiliar medium as compared to writing a persuasive essay. I will and already have seen myself translating these class concepts to my other classes–being able to craft a strong argument through other mediums and projects and not writing to write, but to try to really connect with the reader and to make it engaging.


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