Please contact E. B. Davis at email@example.com for information on guest blogs and interviews. September Interviews 9/1 Carol Perry 9/8 Nupur Tustin 9/15 Maggie Pill 9/22 Veronica Bond 9/29 Rhys Bowen Guest Blogs 9/18 Mark Leichliter -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Care for an Adventure?
Do you remember those choose-your-adventure novels? Mine were all paperbacks that I kept in a stack in my reading corner. In those days before e-books and hypertext, I found the idea of one book containing multiple stories irresistible, especially since I was the protagonist.
My choices created the narrative. The most insignificant-seeming interaction could result in happily-ever-after or total nightmare, and so I bit my nails over every little A or B decision. Did I talk to the spooky old woman at the edge of the graveyard or pass her by? Take tennis lessons or go horseback riding? Visit the bell tower or explore the dusty attic? And the suspense! I would have closed my eyes and turned pages if I could have.
And so now I'm a writer. I'm at the helm of my own stories every step of the way (assuming my protagonists cooperate). And while I love immersing myself in the world of Tai's Confederate gun shop and Trey's corporate security firm, keeping them on track through multiple plot combinations and series-long character arcs is hard work. I miss those well-thumbed paperbacks!
And so now, in my fifth decade, I am discovering the world of online gaming. My teenager loves these immersive games, but I didn't really take them seriously until she convinced me to try the steampunky Fallen London, a darkly clever and smartly written adventure in a very Lovecraftian Victorian London. Fallen London is a browser game which can be played online on your computer or downloaded as an app for your phone. Either way, it's utterly addictive (and because it’s online, you can play with others who are also addicted—it's also free to play for the basic version). I am currently making my way through the Veilgarden, progressing nicely in my seduction of a charming jewel thief, and working on Ladybones Road with the Implacable Detective to solve the mystery of the Secret of the Face-Tailor. I've found a series of Compromising Documents and have an Infernal Contact (who may or may not be a devil) so I should be okay as long as the nightmares don't get me. Or the hell goat. Or my addiction to psychedelic honey.
Another great game is Oxenfree, a downloaded adventure that can be played from start to finish in a couple of hours. Once I got going, I was hooked immediately. Unlike the video games of my youth which were all spastic flash and bang, Oxenfree is languid and dreamy (until the possessions start, that is). With a muted nocturnal palette and subtly spooky soundtrack, it quickly immersed me in the narrative. Soon, I was making my way through a deserted ocean-side park at 3 AM, trying to save my friendships—and eventually my friends' lives—while battling a ghostly menace. Sometimes I had choices, sometimes I didn't, and sometimes my choices were fraught with disaster no matter what decision I made. Rich with backstory and character development, Oxenfree drew me into its unraveling, time-frayed world. I'm not sure I completely returned.
I still love my paper pages of course. Emily Dickinson was right—there is no frigate like a book. But I am discovering that game designers are creating some very intriguing stories in other mediums. Give one a try. And if you want meet me in Fallen London, head to the Singing Mandrake and ask for Maddusa. I may or may not be pawing through the reticule of an ambitious Artist's Model, looking for the scraps of Stolen Correspondence the wench filched from me in the House of Virtue.