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Admiration Point

by Rachel Helps

Science Fiction, Slice of Life

Web Site

(based on 22 ratings)
8 reviews

About the Story

You work as a virtual exhibit artist at a digital culture museum. There is a glimmer of attraction to your co-worker. You are married and Mormon.

Game Details


20th Place - 28th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2022)


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Number of Reviews: 8
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
A future museum employee deals with desire for affair, October 21, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

This game is a fusion of a couple of concepts/story threads. The first is a futuristic story where you are part of a VR museum curation team. This is a really interesting story that feels well-researched and describes things like how to crowdsource tagging videos with metadata and how perception of culture changes over time.

The other thread is where you are a burnt-out member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and mother and wife, and your older but handsome coworker Sean starts looking really attractive to you as a way to escape.

A lot of the game deals with the outlook of unhappy wife who somewhat believes in the Church but feels oppressed and dislikes several aspects. A lot of this part was hard to read as I was divorced primarily because my wife felt much of the same things that this protagonist feels with regards to the our church, and just like the protagonist, she wanted a way out.

I appreciated a fact I didn't discover until the end notes, which is that (Spoiler - click to show)there is no way to actually have an affair. It made me feel like the game really did a good job of representing player agency, since (Spoiler - click to show)just because you do everything can to make someone like you or want you, doesn't mean it will work.

Besides dredging up a lot of uncomfortable personal feelings (which I think is a sign of good writing), the one thing that didn't entirely click for me was the pacing; it was never clear just how close we were, or just what actions would have what results, if that makes any sense. Stylistically, it's a reasonable choice, since relationships are messy and confusing. But I felt like the gameplay was obfuscated (if that's the right word here).

Overall, I think this one will do well. Great research and touches on a lot of pertinent points in modern society.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Workplace crushes and their discontents, December 18, 2022
by Andrew Schultz (Chicago)
Related reviews: IFComp 2022

Um, so, yeah, Workplace crushes bad. There's reasons any self-respecting HR department has a whole stack of procedure on what to do about potential workplace relationships. But then again, HR is just about covering a company's legal liability, even if they throw in bromides such as "harassment-free work environment." Fortunately, there's more to Admiration Point than this. It weaves in the awkwardness with what is a very interesting look at a hypothetical museum in the future. It tracks social media in the 2010's and 2020's, and while it doesn't point the finger, it certainly lets the reader connect the dots. (It being the museum and story.)

Not that things are all dark and dystopian and so forth. You have a job as a graphic designer, though it's not the position of responsibility you want. Some of the things you need to do whitewash some very real struggles in the past in order to gain looks for your museum. (It seems to have missed the point of the social media it seeks to analyze. It's part of the problem, but hey, things happen like that.) The job seems pretty stable, though, maybe with some friends moving in and out. You have problems at home with your husband, about having sex, and while I try to avoid that stuff in my games (cheap and hopefully harmless jokes notwithstanding,) someone's got to discuss it, and in this case I'm glad it's not done in all caps or with dreadful text effects or, worse, talking about how they've been repressed from doing so by society. It's just: things happen. Certainly in high school, I had crushes on what I see now to be pretty awful people. But they were attractive. Or I felt impressed by someone who seemed charismatic and told dirty jokes. And, yes, some decent people didn't reciprocate to me, and that hurt. Immaturity isn't an excuse in the workplace, though.

There is considerable agency as to how much you can get to know Sean, your crush. I just didn't want to deal with him at first, because 1) I was interested in why the museum was there and its daily workings and 2) I didn't want to have to deal with workplace relationships. I'd seen some work well and some not. I also remember a poor schlep who, neglecting a co-worker's picture of her with her fiance she'd attached to overhead metal cubicle drawers with a magnet, say "Think I have a chance with her?" This may only scratch the surface of possible awkwardness--I realized I didn't want to deal much with the core issues AH brought up, and I was actually glad it didn't force me to, right away. Also, I generally don't think much of socializing, period, with coworkers more than I have to. So perhaps I am like Sean, except with friendship, for some people. Though I enjoy what they share, sanely, on Facebook. That Facebook (FACEBOOK!) works better for this than face-to-face may say something about a former work environment. Or about me.

So there's so much that can go wrong, but it's handled pretty delicately. I have to admit that after I'd gotten three endings, I sort of just breezed through the rest and said, okay, I have to be flirty to see it all, and I didn't want to be flirty, and I don't think I'd have wanted to even if AH's description mentioned things wouldn't be reciprocated. Thankfully there's nothing cringey beyond the signs misread, and you feel like you can forgive the protagonist. Yet all this sort of echoed how work can be – you do the same thing every day, except when some annoying emergency pops up, and then you wish you went back to the boring stuff, and the only way out is – to act out, or maybe to start an office fling. Anything to break the monotony. Fortunately you have enough of a life outside the office that you're offered other jobs in some threads, and this all feels more than satisfactory. I appreciate discussions of missing signs, because I've missed them, and I've had them missed, deliberately or not.

AH did a good job, to me, of capturing the discontent of office work beyond any mere need for romance or career fulfillment. Some games go full angst or corny joke, which are great whn you don't want to be chanllenged, but I'm glad middle ground is being filled. There were times I sensed the main character was as drawn to complaining about the hidden restrictiveness of her job as she was to flirting with Sean. So this feels like a nontrivial work. It certainly reminded me of my own frustrations and of people who acted out more than the player-character could have dreamed of. This with me not really being its target audience. So, well done.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Genre-busting, January 7, 2023
by Jim Nelson (San Francisco)

Admiration Point is a genre-busting story, a Mormon slice-of-life “anti-romance” (author’s description) set in a near-future America and shot through with anti-corporate and neo-feminist themes. I could dig up more labels to slap on the side of the game, but I think the point is made: There’s a lot going on here.

AP is also a significantly longer work compared to the other choice-based games I’ve played to date. Prose passages approach the length of short chapters. The game has the ambitions and sensibilities of print fiction. The prose and dialogue is clean and flows well.

You play Maria, a futuristic Mormon digital archivist in a happy but unsatisfying marriage. While assembling virtual exhibits of the digital past (which are more-or-less our digital present), Maria grows attracted to coworker Sean, also a member of the church and also married with children.

My first play-through was a bust—I’m a sensible-shoes kinda guy, and my choices led to a rapid conclusion: Maria shrugs and tells herself to set aside her fantasies of Sean. Yawn.

My second play-through, I pushed the envelope and had Maria get aggressive about pursuing Sean. The story blossomed. Maria’s past, her self-doubt, and all her feelings for Sean surfaced. In-game creepiness options unlocked, such as trying on Sean’s coat when he’s out of the room, or modeling Sean as a full-sized 3D virtual avatar and staring longingly into his uncanny-valley eyes.

As for “anti-romance,” the plot elements actually tick a lot of romance fiction boxes: A smart, independent female lead; the intriguing, handsome, and seemingly unattainable love interest; and plenty of moments of personal-space violations. It’s the kind of story where Maria worries that brushing lint off of Sean’s shirt might be construed as making a pass. The restraint of a faithful wife is substituted in for the romance novel’s ingenue. The tale is semisweet, and not exactly wholesome.

My problems with Admiration Point involve narrative focus and outcomes. An odd amount of time is spent detailing Maria’s work as an archivist—the prose gets boggy enumerating the challenges of building VR exhibits of mommy bloggers and other digital cultural artifacts of the 2000s to 2030s. An editing pen could have pared these passages down, and better connected them to the emotional core of the story. Meanwhile, Maria’s home life is strangely glossed over. Her child gets brief mentions; her husband is little more than someone to tell she has a headache tonight. It’s a gaping absence in a story about a woman contemplating an affair.

Maybe I didn’t make the right choices my second time through (I was hitting the gas pedal pretty hard, though), but Maria’s self-destructive choices never came home to roost. Both endings I reached halted abruptly. Punches were pulled. An old saw in creative writing workshops is, “Why is this story being told?” Even if the author insists on making this an anti-romance—fair enough—the puzzle pieces don’t assemble to a story of ripe consequences, leaving the hollow sense of missed opportunities.

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Outstanding Twine Game of 2022 - Player's Choice by MathBrush
This poll is part of the 2022 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 Twine game of 2022. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible games...

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This poll is part of the 2022 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 overall game of 2022. Voting is open to all IFDB members. Eligible...

Outstanding Twine Game of 2022 - Author's Choice by MathBrush
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