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Chinese Family Dinner Moment

by Kastel profile


Web Site

(based on 6 ratings)
4 reviews

About the Story

Content Warnings: Sexual harassment, racism, transphobia.
You haven't even had the chance to tell your parents you've gone vegan...
Made for the Single Choice Jam.
(Photo credit: Cera)

Game Details


Entrant - Single Choice Jam

30th Place, Best in Show - The IF Short Games Showcase 2023


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Number of Reviews: 4
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
A constrained parser game with a family dinner, December 5, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: less than 15 minutes

This is a parser game entered in the single choice jam, which requires that games only allow a single choice throughout the game.

This takes a clever spin on things by making you only capable of one real action at a time. There are many small things you can do: looking around, taking inventory, etc. But only one action really works.

It took me a bit to find what it was, which was frustrating at first.

Once I did, the game took on new dimensions, basically showing everything that could go wrong with a family party when your values and self-concept don't align with theirs.

Short and constrained, but impactful.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
An uncomfortable moment, April 20, 2024
by EJ

In Chinese Family Dinner Moment, the PC, a closeted AMAB trans person who has been away at college in the US, reunites with their Chinese Indonesian family for a Lunar New Year dinner. (Whether the character is a woman or nonbinary is not stated.) On one side is an auntie who wants to chatter inanely about family members the PC barely knows; on the other an uncle with unsavory intentions. The PC can't eat the food (they're a vegetarian), can't reveal too much about themself, can't stomach engaging with their family's conservative political opinions and general bigotry. In such a situation, what can you do? As anyone who's been through this kind of family dinner might guess, not much...

This is a very quick game, but it works perfectly at the length that it is, because it zooms in on this single moment and really makes the player feel the PC's acute discomfort and sense of being trapped, (Spoiler - click to show)as well as their self-disgust when they finally cave and starts parroting what their family wants to hear. Much of this is accomplished through the use of a strictly limited parser--a great illustration of how "interactivity" doesn't have to mean "making choices" or "solving puzzles." A static short story of a similar word count would not have nearly the impact that this has.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A true-blue hard-core Single Choice Jam entrant, August 21, 2023
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: 2023 Single Choice Jam

The Single Choice Jam allowed for one actual choice of branches, with the rest being just pushing through with the equivalent of "next." That's not to say you had to put a choice of two or more paths in, though of course it'd be a risk to.

CFDM takes this risk and is, I think, successful. Perhaps you have little in common with the narrator. You're not a member of any group that's discriminated against. But it's still easy to understand their helplessness, as well as the final climax, which wasn't dramatic but I can see how it's something you might be dreading all evening.

The setting is a family dinner where banal things seem to be discussed. Except in context they are not banal and you have a right to feel very ugly listening to them. Family members are either negligent towards this or actively trying to make things more uncomfortable. It's not a very long dinner, thankfully for the reader, and it doesn't need to be to get the point across. The final bit hit home for me, as it forced the narrator to go along with the whole charade of normality one last time. I found it effective. I suspect most readers have been in the narrator's position before. The alternative seems to be that they have not, because they have created that sort of position for others, which is obviously worse.

This entry was written by someone looking to try Inform for the first time after showing they were handy with Twine and narrative things. It's neat to see this crossover on general principles, being someone who used these jams to look into Twine after learning Inform. And I think it adds a new perspective--based on other potential entrants' notes, I don't think the way through the game would've been something someone experienced with Inform would've gravitated to. It's relatively simple, but it hits a good spot between standard Inform verbs and what to do in this sort of situation.

Also, given the restrictions of the comp, it seemed like a great time to learn something new--"don't do too much," a general good idea for learning something new, is really baked into the comp rules. Plus you have a buffer or ready-made excuse if things don't work out. CFDM did not need one.

I've had a few painful family dinners of my own, with the whole "just sit through it" ethos. Sometimes it would be rehashed afterwards once guests left, with "perhaps you could have participated more, maybe next time, they'll think something is wrong." The author mentions they hadn't had such a dinner for three years due to COVID, which is a small mercy for all the bad things that happened, and I was grateful to be able to add their perspective at this sort of thing to my own. I can say "yikes" now without going into a tailspin, and I appreciated this from CFDM, and I hope the main character gets there sooner than I did.

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Chinese Family Dinner Moment on IFDB

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The following polls include votes for Chinese Family Dinner Moment:

Outstanding Use of Interactivity in 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the an outstanding game of 2023 that felt truly interactive. Voting is open to...

Outstanding Short Game of 2023 by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2023 IFDB Awards. The rules for the competition can be found here, and a list of all categories can be found here. This award is for the best short game of 2023, where the definition of 'short' is left up to the...

Microparsers by Tabitha / alyshkalia
The discussion in this thread, from which I've borrowed the term "microparser" (thanks Pinkunz!), led me to want to collect small parser games. I'm thinking of ones that fit what's described in the thread--generally taking less than 30...

See all polls with votes for this game

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