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10th Place - 8th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2002)
A serious, story-heavy look at the problem of domestic abuse. Similar to Photopia in its basic design, this doesn't have much by way of puzzles, but presents a narrative from the viewpoint of several different player characters. Reactions have been somewhat mixed, but this is a moderately effective piece despite the generic characterizations of the major players. Not particularly light-hearted or fun.
-- Emily Short
>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction
Jane takes on the topic of wife-beating, portraying it from the perspective of the victim, the abuser, and a few others besides. The experience of playing through a story in IF form, as opposed to reading it on the page, really intensifies my identification with the characters, and there were moments during my time with Jane that I started feeling physically ill, and dirty, involved in something I did not wish to be a part of. I don't mean to sound disapproving -- those moments were quite powerful and dramatic, and the game did give a clear warning about its subject matter before it began. Indeed, the times when I was feeling the most upset were when I was admiring Jane the most; its writing and its implementation occasionally managed to affect me quite strongly.
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There's no question that the piece is being used to raise awareness of domestic abuse, and I'm not really sure that the Comp is the place for such things. On the other hand, it certainly is honest about what it's doing, and uncomfortable though it is to play through, there is no doubt of it's sincerity. And I do approve of raising awareness of such things in general. This is by no means a fun game, but it is well coded and a competent job of story-telling.
-- Jessica Knoch
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The linear nature of the story makes it more harrowing, you know what's going to happen and no matter how hard you try, you can't stop it. Trying to help can make things much worse. There is some (from my point of view very) unpleasant language which is in keeping with the plot. There is violence, but not committed by the player.
-- John Ferris
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Number of Reviews: 3
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"Jane" is a conversation-based game, with a strong emphasis on story. It is puzzleless, and very linear. It's best approached as a short story.
You start out as Jane, victim of domestic abuse. You are in the hospital, having a cast put on your wrist after, what you claim, was simply an accidental fall. It's clear from the start however, that this injury was inflicted by husband, and you are adamantly protecting him from exposure. No one, not even your closest friend, is privy to the truth about what goes on in your home behind closed doors.
Over the course of the game (and this came as a surprise to me since I had not read any reviews ahead of time) the player's point-of-view changes from Jane's to that of various other characters in the story. And here was the interesting part… One of the perspectives from which you play the game is from the that of the abusive husband. Wow. Switching perspectives between protagonist and antagonist was, in my mind, a brilliant choice by the author. This not only added an interesting twist to the story, but it also gives the player brief glimpses into the mind and motivations of an abuser.
Personally, I'm always a bit put off by the multiple-choice conversational system, particularly when there is only one choice offered (or when all choices have the same result!). It disrupts the mood of the story too much for my taste. I suppose the dilemma in a linear, conversational type of story is that if the author takes away the player's ability to interact with the story, he faces potentially losing the player's interest. Thus, in a game such as this, the only viable options to keep the story moving (rather than playing "guess the topic" or using the conversational system in games such as "Alabaster" and "Shelter from the Storm", which require re-typing key words from a list of possible responses) are either to present multiple-choice (even if there is only one choice on the list) or to simply have the player continue to "press any key" to continue the story. This being the case, I guess it's preferable to offer a "choice" to the player, rather than having them keep hitting the spacebar to advance the dialogue.
Your options as Jane are limited by the character's own emotional weaknesses. Therefore, actions such as hiding from John, confronting him, searching his belongings, etc… are not allowed because it's not in the character's nature to do these things. This can be somewhat frustrating, but I suppose it's also beneficial since it forces the player to operate within the mindset and self-invoked limitations of a victim.
All in all, this was a well-written story which, hopefully, will evoke in players a greater awareness of the inner workings domestic abuse.
Jane is a puzzleless, story-driven piece with multiple narrators. It takes maybe about 10 minutes to play.
The subject matter of this game is domestic violence (not a spoiler — the author tells you this up-front); this makes it slightly tricky to criticise, since it feels a bit like criticising a charity for the wording of its mailshots. The author's heart is clearly in the right place, and the text certainly isn't badly written, but I never really felt drawn in to the story. It also didn't tell me anything I didn't already know.
I'd have liked to have seen a bit more individuality in the characters; they just felt like stereotypes to me. I think the message would have been more powerful if there had been something to the characters beyond their specific roles in this specific narrative.
Jane is a game that is openly influenced by Photopia, yet tells its own story, in this case about domestic abuse.
You play a variety of characters, jumping from viewpoint to viewpoint, but your main character is Jane, a victim of domestic abuse that blames herself and rationalizes her husband's actions.
The writing was good, and several actual abuse victims consulted with the author during the writing process.
Good for fans of alt-games (games that primarily tell the story of a minority or of someone with a particular condition or bad situation).
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