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  • Neurocracy: Using Wikipedia As A Narrative Device

    - Joannes Truyens

  • Revision history

    Wikipedia's editing backend includes a revision system that allows contributors to keep track of edits made to each article. Omnipedia features a similar system used to serialise Neurocracy's release model, with most articles published gradually as the story moves from date to date. This ensures Neurocracy is not a one-and-done game, with player engagement stretching over a longer period of time.

    The initial release of Neurocracy features three available dates in the year 2049. A first set of articles is available across those three dates, with players able to navigate inside and between them. Switching dates anywhere on Omnipedia shifts the entire website to that date, and each article comes with a View changes function to check any edits against the preceding date.

    The next "episode" adds a fourth date to the revision history along with a set of fresh articles and the appearance of an inciting incident in the In the news box on Omnipedia's main page. As additional episodes and articles are released (and existing articles are updated), the story progresses across consecutive dates, simulating bouts of frantic Omnipedia edits to reflect an ongoing crisis that captures the attention of the world of 2049. As such, each new episode reveals a snapshot of the events of the last 24 hours.

    The serialised format allows for the storyline to be subtly adapted to player reactions and interpretations while in progress. A single sentence or update in one article may cast another in a wholly different light. This also implies that players who first access Neurocracy after the serialised aspect has concluded will have a different experience. With all articles immediately available, it becomes an in medias res story where players have to work backwards, making what has been deleted over time just as important as what's been added.

    Article previews

    Since it would be infeasible to replicate the sheer expanse of Wikipedia's content for its 2049 counterpart, the majority of Omnipedia's internal hyperlinks are limited to pop-ups which appear when players interact with them (either by hovering the pointer over them on larger screens or tapping them on smaller screens). This mimics Wikipedia's article previews, which work in a similar fashion.

    These pop-ups are primarily used to briefly illustrate present-day concepts that already have their own Wikipedia articles, but they also tie into the serialised aspect of Neurocracy. Full articles that are released in later episodes can and do feature as pop-ups in earlier episodes. This makes each pop-up that communicates a fictional character, concept, or idea into a potential teaser, as it has every chance of being expanded into a full article in a later episode.


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