Deviance by Game Play

WEEK 5: Quests and Game Play

Donna Leishman, the Scottish author of Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw caught my attention immediately amongst our readings this week, so I will be focusing on her. In summary, we also looked at Digital Oddities and Creatures (amongst others) by Jason Nelson and Keith Stuart’s article in The Guardian titled “Basquiat meets Mario Brothers? on the meaning of art games”.


Leishman’s interactive animated graphics contained very little text for traditional literature lovers to chew on but left a curious-taste in my brain after my first encounter.

Entering the tale’s world by a single click on an animated tree hanging the wrong-way-round, the reader finds themselves in a semi-minimalist town-scape. The first thing that stood out to me was the sign that read “BLUE LAGOON” above the highrise in the forefront. Before reading more about Christian Shaw and her sad history, I thought “Cool! Iceland!” since this is the name of the world-famous spa outside Reykjavik (that I just visited).

After some looking around on Google, it turns out this is not the case. The demonic trial of Christian Shaw is one of the many tragic cases that has fallen into the Salem witch trial pot (not to be punny… but… ).  Further searching for Blue Lagoon’s connection with Christian Shaw left me a bit empty-handed, for I had a hard time believing Donna could be referring to the young Brooke Shield’s Castaway-romance doppelganger or the current Australian Christian summer camp.

With this aside (although it will continue to be a loose end that I would like to tie), Leishman’s game was extremely alluring. Her whimsical forms were animated with incredibly contrasting spooky content. The demonic details (like the exorcist-style acrobats and burning jail cell at the end) reminded me of the rusty-spoon YouTube classics.

The cute-yet-terrifying graphic videos were very popular in the early 2000’s, lining up nicely with Donna’s publishing date: 2004. At this time, the creepypasta-era of the internet was hot among the YouTube-crazed youth. The creepypasta idea (more about this style of storytelling can be found on aeon’s excellent brief) can be summed up by the thrill of murder mystery’s or secret trap doors in abandoned homes: the line between fear and pleasure is very thin.

The more Donna’s story creeped me out, the more I wanted to know where she was going with this. Perhaps in a type of tolerance-testing, I find horror’s and mysteries the most satisfying story’s, since as a reader you feel accomplished or emotionally victorious when you resume real-life.

Did Donna want re-tell Christian’s story because of some religious/political motive? Did she have any personal connection to the story? Whats with the Blue Lagoon?? Does her 6amhoover URL refer to J. Edgar Hoover, the first FBI director?  I have many questions for the author, but maybe this makes the story even better since it has a self-concluding air.

One Reply to “Deviance by Game Play”

  1. I like that you draw a parallel between Leishman’s game and creepypasta stories. It made me think about why the format she chose is appropriate for the horror genre. Using mostly visuals, having the player investigate small details, and stimulating our sense of curiousity (perhaps creeping us out in the process) all help to immerse us in the story’s atmosphere.

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