Half Life: Full Life Consequences- An Internet Folktale

24 03 2010

Human beings have always had stories that have been passed among different cultures, changing and adapting depending on the storyteller. The Greeks gave us the story of Prometheus. The French gave us Little Red Riding Hood. Americans created Paul Bunyon. And an internet denizen named Mattimer, posing as a 9-year-old named squirrelking, gave us the saga of Half Life: Full Life Consequences. Lo, and it is silly.

Fanfiction, for those of you who have too much of a social life to care about such things, is where amatuer authors write stories that expand on a universe created by another creative force. If I wrote a story that took place in the Harry Potter universe, or used Jim and Pam from The Office, it would be fanfiction. Fanfiction is, by-and-large, crummy.

A fellow operating under the codename Mattimer went even further undercover, assuming the internet tag of squirrelking. Under this false identity, he claimed to be a 9 year old. He wrote a piece of fanfiction based around the Half Life videogame called Half Life: Full Life Consequences. It was a pitch perfect satire of fanfiction, to the point that it was indistinguishable from the real thing. It was rife with poor spelling and even worse narrative problems. It was very funny.

It was so funny, in fact, that one member of You’re the Man Now, Dog performed a dramatic reading of the fanfiction. It was very funny, too.  Other YTMND members also performed dramatic readings. Some of them were funny, too.

The matter snowballed from there, as they often do. Users began to create animations for these dramatic readings. An internet entity known as djy1991 created a machinima film of Half Life: Full Life Consequences, which is considered the definitive version of the story. Machinima is a portmanteau of “machine” and “cinema.” It refers to the process of using prerendered graphics engines (like those in videogames) to create unique works of art. It was very funny as well.

This is crowdsourcing at it’s most pure. People with different skill sets collaborate anonymously to create something compelling. It also might be an indicator of how folk storytelling works in the information age. Half Life: Full Life Consequences is a tale that’s been told many times in different ways by different people in different mediums. It’s a folk tale in the ways that count. The only difference is, it doesn’t take generations to disseminate the story anymore. An idea can be created, transplanted, mutated, and forgotten about in just a matter of years.

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