Dave Tomlinson

            Based on the premise that more can be found by analyzing a seemingly unrelated narrative for clues about one's subconscious than can be found in other forms of evaluation, this video game was developed. Its purpose is to provide a means of gathering information about a person in order to gauge their personality. The analysis I choose to do was the equipment, terrain, rocks, container, garden, and staircase. The equipment was found to give a good indication of the way I prepare for different situations and how each of the things I bring along with metaphorically help me as I prepare for whatever life throws at me. The terrain represents the difficulty of how my life is going. I explain the possible reasons for the way the world is and how I am affected. The rocks represent problems we face and how we handle them. I have found to enjoy challenges that can get me ahead and show off my true abilities. The container is the material side. I also bring in the point of how information effects us in this time. The garden is a look back to my childhood, and what my childhood was like. The staircase signifies the spiritual side, or in my case the lack of a spiritual side. The analysis of those topics gives a view into my subconscious.

            My equipment tells of the way I would prepare for things I do in life. In the story I said, “I would bring a map, compass, matches, tent, sleeping bag, rope, and a knife.” There are not a lot of items, so I would not be living in luxury in this hypothetical journey. I think that parallels my life in that I do not always prepare in the best way I can. In this journey I could have brought anything I wanted, but chose to bring these items. Although, I won't have a lot of amenities, I have the necessities for survival. A map and compass say that I will be able to find my way if I can figure out where I am and where I am going. A map is useless if you don't know where you are, or cannot figure that out. The same is true for me in life. If I don't know my skills or know what I can offer a company, it is very hard to market my abilities in a job interview. A compass goes very well with the map. Once you know where you are, a compass will help you determine the direction to take. It can tell you which way north is, but it will not tell you the direction to take. You must look at the map and locate the best direction to travel, based on your present position. Matches signify my ability to have ideas. With matches, you can start a fire if you have enough wood and tinder. My intellect and creativity will make it much easier to get something going if I have the right support. An idea, like a match, is only useful if you have the materials and willpower to keep it going. Once you light a match to start a fire, you cannot stop there, you must continuously add wood to the fire or else it will go out. I must realize that I will not be able to make it through life with only a box of matches, and that I must also gather tinder to start the fire and continuously gather wood to keep it going. That means I cannot go through life relying only on my intellect to get me through. While that may be able to start something, only work, the gathering of wood, will be able to maintain that. A tent and sleeping bag are also something I bring along. The tent and sleeping bag represent shelter. I think that my family will give me that shelter no matter what the weather is like outside. My parents will always give me that shelter no matter what I did or what is going on. A knife and rope symbolize my education. A rope and knife are tools that can be used to help me survive. I can use the rope to help me climb things I couldn't climb before, or get across things I couldn't get across before. The knife can be used to fashion tools or cut into food. Both of those are very useful in the journey as education is in life. Education gave me tools I could use to do things that would otherwise be very difficult on my own. While it is possible to do many of the things without tools, it is very difficult and time consuming, and you will waste a lot of energy that could be used for other things. That is the way I feel about my education. It gives me tools to use to get ahead and it makes it easier to do certain things that would otherwise be very difficult. I think the equipment I bring along is an indication of the way I prepare for things. I don't feel that I prepare very well, but I never go into a situation without tools and equipment that allow me to make it out.

            The terrain around me is representing the way my life is going now. “The world around me appears to be some sort of forest. A hot, wet forest. I wouldn't consider the forest to be a jungle, but some kind of wet, sub-tropical forest. There are no animals in my immediate vicinity, but a few bugs are visible. There is a clearing about 150 meters ahead. The moving is somewhat difficult.” The way I describe the forest is one of a dense, wet, and somewhat unpleasant place to be right now. There are no animals around, or at least I can see. That signifies that there individual people keeping me back, or affecting my life in a bad way, but the dense trees represent some unknown, faceless people higher up that are making my life somewhat hard to get through. The trees are the politics of life, or how much of the politics affects people down on the ground. Not only politics in the government, but politics of all kinds. The people manipulating others and unfavorable compromises being made, that in the end make such a tangled web that slows progress of many people. “The ground is littered with sticks, fallen limbs, and trunks. The weather is sunny, but I am not able to appreciate the sun in my current location due to the dense tree cover.” The ground is covered with the fallen. Those who played the Game, only to be left on the ground. Some are just twigs that served as scapegoats, ones who were sacrificed for the greater good, while others are huge limbs, those who were most likely caught in a precarious position during a storm and fell. Now the rest of us are forced to be encumbered by their mistakes, through the rules and regulations that we have come to know. The sky above is sunny, but those on the ground are unable to appreciate the warmth, due to the ones above wishing to gather it all for themselves. I wouldn't say I am not a fan of the Game, just the way it is so often played.

            The rocks represent the problems I have in life and the way I deal with them. “The clearing ahead will give me a good understanding of my surroundings. I get to the clearing. I see there is a large rock sticking out to the top of a hill. Only the top of this large round rock is visible. The rock is about twice the height of me and the hill rises even more from the surrounding landscape. I think the rock would give me a very good view of the area, so I climb to the top and take a look around.” I view problems as a way to get ahead and see things that I have not seen before. The rock gives me a view of the world around me that I would not have had if I had avoided the rock in the first place. Problems are like that. If you solve them, you may get a better view of where you are and where you are going. If the world was flat and there were no obstacles, there would be no way to know where you are or where you are going, even if you had a map. If you live your life with out challenging yourself, you will never know where you could have gone. I like to challenge myself. I did not choose quantum chemistry as my field of study because it was easy or intuitive. I think the rock does give a good representation of the way I like to find and handle problems. The rock in the story is an ideal problem, in my opinion. There are no large cracks or crevasses, meaning that this problem has no hidden pitfalls and all portions of it are easily seen. The rock is embedded in a hill. The problem is in a respected field. It is already higher than the rest of the surroundings. Finally, the rock is somewhat large and in one piece. I work best to solve big problems in one piece. I am able to concentrate on the problem and eventually solve it. If the rock was instead a pile of gravel, not even half as tall, I would immediately become buried and unable to escape. I am easily overwhelmed by small problems and have great difficulty shifting my focus to another problem if I am stuck on one.

            The container represents my material side. My container was a flash drive. “I walk further and I see a flash drive. Curious, there aren't any cities within 500 miles of here. The flash drive was not on a beach or anywhere else you would expect to find  garbage or other things laying around. Since I don't have a computer, I put the flash drive in my backpack and continued.” The flash drive signifies how far we have come with technology. I am very much used to technology and place a great value in it. The flash drive also shows how something so small, could contain a library of information. The information age has taught us that things don't have to be big to have the potential of telling us a lot, if we have the right technology. The flash drive brings out another point about me. If I find some interesting information, I will try to store that somehow, even if I don't know what it means or what I can do with it. Information and to a broader sense, knowledge, is how we become successful in today's world.

            The garden represents childhood. “I walk further and come across another clearing. There are many plants in this clearing. It was almost as if nature had made a garden out of this place. I see some plants that are edible. I pick some fruit and eat it. It is delicious.” My childhood was not a good part of my life. I never did feel I could settle down and have a good childhood. My family moved a lot and I could never fit in and had few friends. I did not feel I could count on much during my childhood. Just like a natural garden. You can take what you can get, but you cannot count on there being anything there in a month. I did get some good things out of my childhood, but those happened to be opportunistic finds. I learned some coping strategies and ways of getting through my childhood, but I would not want to do it again.

            In my story, the staircase is absent. I thought at the time that it did not fit in with the rest of the surroundings. I knew that the staircase did not make sense and would disrupt the flow of the story and the order of the things around me. That is exactly the way I live my life. I used to believe in a higher power when I was young, but I don't believe anymore. It just doesn't make sense. The world is beautiful the way it is, and the way everything works together. There does not need to be some supernatural power controlling it or affecting it in any way. I have no spiritual side, and I don't want one.

            Overall, the analysis is pretty accurate, but shouldn't it be? With enough creativity, you can transform a journey through a forest into a glimpse into my mind. This interpretation is not an objective means of analysis and would not serve any practical purpose to a company attempting to gain insight into a potential candidate for a job. That is the problem with the initial premise, but there is another big problem, the video game aspect. Computers are useful for many things, they are excellent at performing mathematical calculations. They are also very good at doing repetitive tasks over and over, and they are good at keeping track of things. But, where computers fall short is comprehension, pattern recognition, and drawing conclusions. All of those things are of vital importance to the success of this program. Those insufficiencies can be overcome, but will be extremely expensive will require a lot of time and expertise, both in the coding and in the psychology, and even then, will probably still not compare to a trained psychologist meeting with the person. I think that it would be more cost effective to hire a psychologist to analyze the person, than to try to develop software to do the same.