Interactive Fictional Narrative Game
Project Overview
Be4AM is an interactive fictional novel-based game that portrays Korean shamanism's cultural aspects and its power to heal the people who struggle with mental or physical problems caused by the souls of the dead.

Shamanism is often portrayed as witchcraft or an eerie ritual that makes uncomfortable energy and takes advantage of the people who desperately need help. It is also gradually disappearing from society as it is considered ‘old-fashioned.’ On the other hand, Korean shamanism is a folk religion that dates back to prehistory and has significant historical value. Ancestors used to believe shamans had the power to heal the patients who were bothered by evil spirits, communicate with gods, and predict the future. This belief still exists; recently, people visit shamans to get counseling and cope with their situation. Therefore, shamanism functions as a ‘spiritual therapist’ to people who seek spiritual guidance and treatment.
As a Korean, I grew up seeing Mudang (Korean Shaman) near my town doing fortune-telling, exorcists, and ritual practices. Yet, they keep a bit of distance from us. I naively thought they were trying to keep away ghosts from people who are not spiritually sensitive but staying not too far for people who struggle with supernatural causes. From a grown-up perspective, I realized they are under prejudice - their practices are called non-scientific, useless, old-fashioned, and harmful. People are becoming skeptical about their powers. I cannot deny that many scammers act like mudangs extorting money from innocent people. I have an experience of meeting a fake mudang who cannot get any of my past or future right. Besides the above facts, younger generations gradually disbelieve Mudangs, and their ritual practices as Korean culture is becoming westernized. However, this practice is still alive, actually reviving. Mudangs started to create social media channels and proceeded with shamanic practices virtually. I perceived their future reputation as a double-edged sword - Either in the phase of recovery preconception or getting stigma attached to their nominal value. From this project, I wanted to explain their importance as a part of Korean culture.
What is Korean Shamanism?
Mudang has had significant historical value since 2333 BC, serving as an intercessor between God and human beings. Their central role was to protect the tribe from the attacks of evil spirits, assisting the members of the tribe in attaining health and spiritual well-being.
Unfortunately, it is Mudang’s fate to serve a God and see ghosts as they are chosen from an ancestor spirit/god. When I interviewed several mudangs, they all said they denied their fate at first. Still, the spiritual sickness and suffering from sequences of bad events ended up accepting the spirit and her shamanistic power. Mudangs are primarily women, and male mudangs are called Baksu.
Mudangs’ social class shows an interesting position. They were treated as chonmin (enslaved caste) and beggars and kisaeng (Korean geisha), but high-class hierarchies relied on their fortune telling and ritual practices. This peaked during Silla ( 57 BCE ~ 935 CE) and Goryeo (918 ~ 1392 CE). However, During the Joseon Dynasty, mu’s influence weakened due to the negative view of women holding any power.
What is the Power of Korean Shamanism?
Korean shamans are religious experts who deal with spirits and souls of the dead by performing ritual practices and sending their souls to the realms of gods or manifesting souls in their bodies. While their bodies are taken, they are in a trance state - they became a god, showing through the changed voice, gestures, dances, and mimes. Shamans receive wisdom and fortunetelling from their gods/ancestors to help people afflicted with physical, financial, or personal problems.
Visual Prototype
I wanted to experiment with Unity shader graphs and particle systems from this prototype to visualize the effects. Within inspiration ofInfinity Mirrored Room- Filled with the Brilliance of Life2012 by Yayoi Kusama, I wanted to visually describe the shamanic consciousness mind using a mirror filled with stars. I worked with skybox and lights to create as dark an atmosphere as possible.
I experimented with lights, post-processing, particles, skybox, and shaders. It was challenging to create a mirror since, in Unity Universal Shader Pipeline, reflective textures aren't clear enough to reflect the objects in front. Therefore I had to implement a camera that works as a mirror.
I have tried a Kaleidoscope, shape shift, and fractal effects to learn more about shader and computational code from unity.
Mechanic Prototype
List of mechanics: Movement, Camera Switch, Dialogue, Menu, and Environment Mood.
All Mechanics Combined Test
Floaty Movement Test
Mood of the Game Test
Ghost Going Inside of Mudang Test
Main Menu Test
Dialogue Test
Narrative Storyboard
The narratives in the first scene of the game present the background of the shaman characters. The story is based on real history when Korea was annexed by Japan after years of war between 1910 and 1945. In order to establish control over South Korea, Japan carried on an all-out attack on Korean culture, including shamanism. In the scene, the grandmother and grandchild are being chased by Japanese soldiers because they are shamans. One of the Japanese soldiers shoots the grandmother, and she transforms into a soul. The player plays as the soul and moves along a path in the afterlife. Then, the player goes inside the grandchild who survived from the Japanese soldiers and has become a shaman. This scene presents the cultural belief in Korean shamanism: The shaman receives the power of healing people and communicating with spirits through the connection to the soul of the wisest ancestor. The visitors are represented as the national animals of South Korea, a tiger, and a crane, to make them anonymous. The tiger and the crane also show traditional Korean art styles and symbols of wisdom. The dialogue between the shaman and the visitors portrays the spiritual therapy and conversation performed by the shaman. The narrative in the last scene conveys the main message of the game
Bird Eye View of the forest where the chase scene will happen
First Person POV
Camera will follow characters to create a tension
Hiding soldier will shoot the grandmother
After the shot, camera zoom in to create dramatic effect
Granddaughter cries + Dialogue about grandmother worries about leaving her grand daughter alone.
After the death, the new scene starts at the world of the dead where the soul open their energy to become a god. Everytime the player passes the light, the player is being close to divine entity - showing through environment gradually changes.
Player will know who they are after facing a mirror, which reflects themselves and pureness.
Once the player became a god, the player should pair with the great great daughter to help her becoming a shaman. Ususally korean shaman adapts the souls into their body, therefore I wanted to visualize it by the player going inside of the character.
Check out Scripts
This is a script of meeting patient once the player goes inside of the mudang.
Character Design
Demo Screen Shots
Demo Video Showcase
Be4AM is an interactive fictional novel-based game that portrays Korean shamanism's cultural aspects and its power to heal the people who struggle with mental or physical problems caused by the souls of the dead.
Next Step
I would add the animations on characters and expand the environmental / world-building of the game.
Instead of having unrelated counseling stories, I want to create an event, and the shaman has to figure it out by searching and counseling people in the village.