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ParserComp 2021: Daddy's Birthday, August 2, 2021
Daddy’s Birthday is a pleasant and adorable collaboration between a girl and her father, written to celebrate the eponymous Daddy’s Birthday. You can play through the original story as written by Ruth, but it leads to an UNSUCCESSFUL BIRTHDAY, so you’re encouraged to try again and ascertain where exactly you went wrong and how you can help Daddy avoid his tragic fate.
Our author, who quite possibly has a bright future ahead of her in the medical profession, helpfully clarifies the problem with Daddy’s birthday experience: when he falls from the rocking chair, we’re instructed to DIAGNOSE the problem, consider the symptoms (his head hurts), then issue a prescription (he should put some ice on it). Daddy’s also given some keen advice: in the future, try not to rock in your chair, you’re apparently not very good at it.
Another problem that must be overcome is that Daddy doesn’t seem to be the life of the party, as when his daughters surprise him with a birthday celebration, his first instinct is to WAIT and then SIT ON DECKCHAIR. Poor daughters! Perhaps a good present idea for next year is to get Daddy some coffee. (Speaking of the deckchair, we get a slight issue here, in that the walkthrough doesn’t quite line up with the required play pattern: you need to examine the cake first before Mummy brings in the deckchairs for everyone to sit on.) He also forgets to say thank you to his family after they give him his present! Maybe he really has hurt his head!
The one place I really sympathized with our tragic hero is when Daddy attempted, like Orestes fleeing the Furies, to escape the cruelty of his punishment ineluctable, only to be ever tormented by whispery impulses reminding him that “The urge to rock on the deckchair returns…” No matter how far Daddy fled, even unto the precipice of Mummy’s Bedroom, whoops I mean the Big Bedroom, still he yearned for the solace of finality, for he knew no matter how far he roamed his house wild and confused, still “That urge to rock on the deckchair just won’t go away…” At last, broken before the intractable demand, as even his daughters turned against him and suggested “Daddy, why don’t you sit on the deckchair?”, Daddy decided that you just can’t have your cake and eat it too, that with every gift must come a price, that this tie about his neck, much like the albatross of old, hung upon his neck as the symbol of his struggle, thus in despair he attempted to illustrate his conundrum by cutting a slice of the cake and leaving it uneaten as he surrendered to his deckchair doom, a parable by which his family might perhaps learn from his mistakes, but, the moment the cake was sliced, as if by some strange miracle, deus ex machina, everyone gathered around and ate cake and had a SUCCESSFUL BIRTHDAY. So all’s well that end’s well!
As does this game, which glitters with creativity and humor (such as when we find a banner that reads “Happy Birthday Daddy, 21+ today!”), and I’m sure the opportunity for father and daughter to work together and build on each other’s ideas to bring to life such a lovely and thoughtful game is the best birthday present of all.