|After four years in the BMS program, the media theorists we studied started to feel less like musty, long-dead professors from across the ocean and more like people we had gotten to know intimately through reading and analysing their work. When it came time to decide what I would do for this final project of the final class of the (at least in theory) final year of my degree, I knew I wanted to create a project that reflected this parasocial relationship I had developed with these media theorists.
Enter Frankfurt School Monogatari, my attempt at a narrative summary of the past few years of Media Studies. The work "monogatari" in the title, which can mean "story," "tale," or "legend" in Japanese, is a nod to how heavily my project draws on the tropes and characteristics of the JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games) of the 1990s and 2000s. I was admittedly drawn at first to making a media studies JRPG because I'm a fan of the genre, but the game slowly turned into a celebration of the "zombie media" Hu discusses in "Data Centers and Data Bunkers."
Nothing about Frankfurt School Monogatari is current or vital. It is a text-heavy fantasy game that you have to download onto your computer with a 256-colour palette and pixelated graphics that would have been cutting-edge in 1993. And yet the theory which the game's characters discuss and wax poetic about is applicable to the media of today and what will become the media of tomorrow. It is this juxtaposition of self-consciously anachronistic and idealistically forward-thinking that is the underpinning of this game, and I think it is the same spirit that informs the Media Studies program itself.
If you're interested and able to, I strongly encourage you to actually play the game (go use a computer at work or something if you have to). The interactive nature of the game is an important theme in the games story, and frankly it's a lot more fun to play it yourself at your own pace than to watch someone else do it. That being said, if you don't have access to a Windows computer or just don't have the patience to sit through an extended Baudrillard monologue, I've uploaded a playthrough of the game which can be viewed here.
Installation instructions (Windows only, sorry):
Open the zip archive and extract it to any location.
Once you do that, run setup.exe.
Make sure all boxes are checked when installing.
From there, a "Frankfurt School Monogatari" shortcut should appear in the start menu.
Once the game opens, press F4 to go into full screen mode, and press enter at the title screen to begin.