Wukong – The Monkey King

Project Overview

“Wukong” is an iPad-operated interactive narrative based on the story of the Monkey King from the classical Chinese novel The Journey to the West. It is also a story that offers a Buddhist perspective of self-awareness. The Journey to the West is a classic Chinese mythological novel. It was written during the Ming Dynasty based on traditional folktales. The story relates the adventures of a priest, Xuanzang, and his three disciples – The Monkey King, Pig and Friar Sand- as they travel west to find the Buddhist Sutra. My story, however, takes place before the Monkey King met Xuanzang, and explains why he is punished by Buddha and waiting to be rescued to start his journey.

The Problem

The core question of this project is how to present the story in the form of an interactive experience that makes users enjoy the poems of the novel and understand the story by interacting with the characters. How do I embed the Eastern philosophies of Buddhism into a game that Western audiences (aged 20-30) will understand?

This project focuses on the Buddhist elements of the story, and takes the form of a 2d game-like experience, including text, poems, audio and animations that immerse players into the mythic world of the novel in order to understand the story. By interacting with the characters and reading poems, audiences will gain ideas that they might not otherwise have been exposed to. This aims to encourage people to appreciate and understand a distinct culture.

Project Statement

As an example of classical Chinese adventure literature, Journey to the West has been translated into different languages including English, presenting a fantasy Eastern world to Western audiences. The novel has been adapted into different media including games, interactive stories and movies. Most of them are battle games and adventure stories, because Wukong, the Monkey King, is a perfect character for defeating enemies. However, these adaptations do not explore the essential elements of the novel, which is the Buddhist philosophy behind the story. My project, therefore, tries to tell the Monkey King story in a Buddhist perspective.

Medium

Unity is a cross-platform game engine to create a 2D/3D game. It used to develop video game for PC, consoles, mobile devices and websites. Unity allows specification of texture compression and resolution settings for each platform the game supports. Because my intent is to create an iPad-operated game-like experience, I choose Unity for better graphics and better platform.

Concept Map

Core Interactions

I want to make meaningful interactions for my work, unlike many interactive comics that have interactions like “Tap the ‘Next’ button to proceed”, “Tap the ‘Next Page’ to flip the page”; I want to make the controls match my story. Considering that my story happens in ancient time, I design the indication icons this way, so that it feels like brush writing: