It’s 4am. I’m sitting in bed, trying my damnedest to fall asleep, but I know it’s not going to happen. My cat, one of two remaining geriatric animals in my home, is sleeping in a chair beside me. She hasn’t left my side except to eat and wander around the house, crying out for attention. I can’t help but feel shame for thinking that the decay-smelling lamentations are a poor substitute for the playful chirps that used to fill my home. Those were the meows of her daughter, Holly. But I’ll never hear those sounds again, because on May 27th, without sign or warning, she died.
A little over a year ago I became interested with interactive fiction, books or video games that are stories the player creates or manipulates. As a kid I loved reading Choose Your Own Adventure books, so much so that I asked my first grade teacher if I could create one for a writing project. She said no. Recently I discovered that interactive fiction was still alive and kicking, which inspired me to play around with various programs in the hope of developing a game of my own. My best attempt at creating a Zork-like game unexpectedly turned into an as-of-yet unpublished novella called Nimossany. The main reason why I’ve been so resistant to publish is because of the story’s perspective. Second-person present tense is a difficult to write, and equally difficult to read. If the author can’t convince the reader that the “you” in the story is actually them, then the reader will be lost and bored. For a long time I considered changing Nimossany‘s perspective to something more typical of prose fiction. However, three well-written works have convinced me that sticking with second-person is the right move. The three modern games that I feel have influenced my decision are Depression Quest, Gone Home, and Dear Esther. Each of the games make use of different storytelling styles to convey some very difficult, hard to digest themes, and present them in a way that makes game play engaging and personal.
The sound of the propellers drowns the voices of plane’s other passengers. Two by two they lighten the vessel’s load. The instructor tightens all the straps for the third time, and motions to slide along the bench in the middle of the cramped cabin. We wiggle up into an awkward standing position, repeating the same waddle as the last attached pair of bodies that just fell out the open door. We move up. “Ready?” I hear in my ear. The moment I dreaded has arrived. Will I hesitate? I look out and see Earth through a hole in the clouds. “1.” Where’s the rush? “2.” How is it that I’m not freaking out right now? “3!” Where’s the hesitation? The whirr of the propellers is instantly replaced with the sound of rushing wind. If I closed my eyes, I could have been in a pine forest during a hurricane. I try to look around as much as possible; I want to take in the whole experience. The instructor motions for me to make a shaka sign with my hand, and I begrudgingly cave in. As we pass under the clouds my hand is guided to the golf ball on the parachute’s ripcord, and then, suddenly, we’re floating. At that moment I realize something very underwhelming: I’m bored.