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Bringing the 'Three Little Pigs' CYOA to life

My understanding of pig and wolf behavior has skyrocketed since I decided to use The Three Pigs as the lens for explaining various journalism and mass communication theories and concepts this semester, and now the final stage, a Choose Your Own Adventure.

My earlier blog posts show how this project began with explaining the need for an operational definition, then determining what I knew about stakeholders. The third – and most research-extensive – part of this project is a flow chart mapping the structure of what-will-be my Choose Your Own Adventure.

The CYOA is this course's final project. To build this project, students chose a sports communication-related topic or event that interests them. They had to then not only research an element of that subject or what happened during that event, but flesh out what variables led to the next step of variables. In other words, what predicted what? What were the independent variables, and what variables were dependent on those independent variables, and are unlikely to have happened without those independent variables first happening?

My CYOA features Pig 1. It includes what Pig 1 actually did in the film-in-question, Walt Disney’s Silly Symphony Three Little Pigs (1933, English, color), but also alternative options and resulting outcomes I needed to research and to create.

The difficult part about creating alternative options for Pig 1 is that I didn't know much about pig behavior. What would Pig 1 legitimately do, and why? What would predict this behavior, and what would the ramifications be? To create an informed, believable CYOA, I identified three subjects relating to Pig 1 in the film that I needed to research:

  1. Pig behavior

  2. Wolf behavior

  3. Turpentine

First, I began watching videos, perusing websites, and reading books and journal articles about pig and wolf behavior. My ignorance was overwhelming. My jaw was continuously to the floor in disbelief over how little I knew about these animals. I contacted the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, explained my project, and asked questions about lone wolves and their interactions with livestock. (Or in this case, the wolf and his interaction with the Three Pigs.) Program Specialist Cameron Feaster directed me to helpful literature and responded to my questions. This was crucial in helping me understand what would realistically happen if Pig 1 took different courses of action, and how this could influence the story. For example, Feaster told me the phase of being a lone wolf is actually temporary, undertaken to find a mate. This, and the various articles I’ve read since then, has shaped my understanding of why the wolf would have been wandering alone in the three pigs’ neighborhood in the first place. I also wasn’t aware that wolves’ natural go-to meal is not livestock, but prey with higher defenses that make them more difficult to kill. Killing pigs would have been a learned behavior.

Second, I wanted to learn more about the properties of turpentine because in the film’s final scene, Pig 3 dumps turpentine into a boiling cauldron. This saved the day: The wolf falls into this cauldron when he slides down the chimney, burns his backside, and runs away in terror. However, what if something had gone wrong with this flammable chemical? Though I have been able to locate general information about turpentine and its potential effects on humans, I cannot conclusively say yet what turpentine would do to pigs in an enclosed, small house, that is under attack by a wolf. For now, I’m winging that part. But you can be sure there is a chemist somewhere who will be receiving a call from me soon.

This diagram is what I have so far. Still rough, but a good start.

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