Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)




Cammuso, Frank

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Creative Writing | History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychiatry and Psychology | Theory and Criticism


This thesis serves as an investigation on the use of film, television, and video games as access points for personal analysis in imagined scenarios. When creating a fictional world, characters' motivations and behaviors are often based on real-life experiences. In the apocalypse genre, understanding how a character might behave in such an extreme circumstance can be difficult to predict, considering few have lived through comparable conditions. To supplement personal experiences and observations, a creator might use other stories as gateways to self-examination. The investigation begins in film, exploring how stories provide a viewer with new experiences that they can then apply to real-life scenarios. The 'art house horror' effect is examined, exploring how the safety of a theater allows a viewer to process traumatic experiences in a controlled environment. Real-world applications of the 'art house horror' effect are considered and their effectiveness is brought into question. The analysis then moves on to interactive specials (television programs that allow for real-time user input), examining the importance of input from the user on the ability to learn from actions. Finally, the study shifts to video games as the most interactive of the three media explored. The correlation between in-game choices and real-life choices is debated, considering the reward systems offered by games that may influence behavior. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic is examined from the same perspective—as a means to infer human behavior in extreme contexts. The author then concludes with a brief explanation on how these thought experiments and pandemic experiences were incorporated into the development of an original apocalyptic narrative and corresponding illustrations.


Open Access



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