No One Else Is Doing This

by Lauren O'Donoghue

2022

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Number of Reviews: 6
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Knock on those doors…you can do it, October 29, 2022

In this short Twine game, you play as a volunteer collecting dues for a community organization group. It is time for your shift, where you go from door to door, trying to get people interested in signing up as members. You have a quota to meet, but lately your success rate with recruiting members has declined and your faith in the organization's ability to create change is wavering. Think about that later. Pull on your winter clothes, steel your nerves, and start your shift.

Gameplay
Collect £5 in dues within four hours. All right. There are 32 houses on your list. It is not possible to visit them all, nor is that the goal. Well, the goal is to knock on as many doors as possible, but your success is based on the dues you collect, not on how many houses you reach. Going to a house costs five minutes, and at some point, you also need to take at least one break, either to use the restroom or warm up from the cold, or you will have to end your shift early. So, it is definitely not possible to cover everything. But that is also a good reason for replays.

You can also take breaks for other things such as texting a coworker or checking the news. The game is set during the COVID lockdown restrictions in 2020, and checking the news gives some light background context which was a nice touch. Plus, there is an in-game glossary explaining the process of community organization.

The catch is that success is not really possible. Few people showed interest in my pitch. I made a simple list of which houses had people who answered the door, and then narrowed that down to people who would earnestly engage in conversation. Next, I replayed to find the dialog options that successfully convinced them to join. And it worked! I was so pleased with myself. My target was £5. I came back with (Spoiler - click to show) £8. Only to learn that (Spoiler - click to show) some people cancelled their memberships, resulting in me failing to meet my target after all. An exercise in futility, and that is where the main idea comes in.

Story + Characters
The protagonist is coming to terms with the fact that their work is no longer as meaningful as they once thought it was. They joined to make a difference, and now they have a hard time envisioning people enthusiastically signing up for something pitched to them by a stranger on their doorstep. Early on in their job, the protagonist reached their targets with recruiting people but now not so much. They wonder if the time spent going from door to door to keep their numbers up could be better spent elsewhere. But the only thing they are told by their manager is to knock on more doors. The game ultimately shares some interesting perspectives.

There is a strong human element in this game. It captures the task of preparing to weather all sorts of people. When you first play the game there is a sense of anticipation of wondering who will open the door. Someone edgy? Someone friendly? No one at all? At the same time, you also see the other side of the story. There is a lockdown, everyone is cooped up inside, it is the dead of winter, and now here is someone knocking on your door asking you to sign up for something. Still, I wonder if the author has done community organization work themselves, and if so, whether the characters in the game are based on actual experiences.

Visuals
On a brief side note, I really like the game’s appearance which combines a purple background with white text and colourful links. It is organized and crisp looking.

Final thoughts
No One Else Is Doing This was one of the earlier games I played for the IFComp and it immediately pulled me into the story. It is not particularly long, but its gameplay structure encourages multiple playthroughs. While generally lighthearted it does touch on topics about daily concerns such as upkeep of parks or cost of public transportation. It gives you some interesting things to think about, and I appreciated its relevance to the COVID related lockdown without it dominating the gameplay. The game is ultimately a mix of humor, determination, and frustration that puts the player in the protagonist’s shoes.