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Contains Bonehead.gblorb
Post-competition bug fix release
Requires a Glulx interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links. (Compressed with ZIP. Free Unzip tools are available for most systems at www.info-zip.org.)

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by Sean M. Shore profile


(based on 14 ratings)
3 reviews

About the Story

September 23, 1908. Win this game, and your Giants will have the National League pennant almost within reach. You've done your part. You've just made a base hit, putting McCormick on third with the winning run in the ninth inning. It's all up to Bridwell now. Or perhaps not.

Your name is Fred Merkle. You're about to become famous.

Game Details


Nominee, Best Story - 2011 XYZZY Awards

2nd Place - Spring Thing 2011


An updated release of Bonehead is now available on the IF archive. This release contains several bug fixes and new responses inspired by playing the game with ClubFloyd.
Reported by Mr. Patient (updated on March 6, 2012) | History | Edit | Delete
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Editorial Reviews

Which leads us to our subject: three weeks ago saw the release of the first narrative baseball game. Bonehead is written by Sean M. Shore, and tells the story of New York Giants first baseman and teenager Fred Merkle, whose baserunning gaffe in the final week of 1908 helped cost his team the pennant and dogged him the rest of his life. Your goal is to re-enact that day, beginning with standing in line at the train station on the way to the stadium.
See the full review

Play This Thing!
It's a structure that promotes sympathy rather than identification. You the player are not Fred. You know things Fred doesn't know, you don't know things he does (like the ins and outs of swinging at various pitch types). Your goal, to see the story through and find out what happened, is very much to Fred's disadvantage, as he would have had a happier life if things had gone differently in that game.
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The Digital Antiquarian

Bonehead is the true story of the ďmost infamous play in baseball history,Ē one which demoralized the 1908 New York Giants in their battle against the Chicago Cubs for the pennant and earned for Fred Merkle, your avatar and the star of the game, the sobriquet of the title. Iím always happy to play any IF that is not set aboard a spaceship or in a fantasy kingdom, and this setting feels particularly fresh, with its occasional period photographs and some very nice descriptive writing. It doesnít hurt that I quite enjoy the game of baseball, and, while I donít really know that much about its history, never object to learning more. And Shore is well up to the task, writing always with a light, usually slightly comic touch. Interestingly, his narrator breaks the fourth wall frequently to speak directly to us / Merkle, an unusual approach that works very well.
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Number of Reviews: 3
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Rounders + Nostalgia + Statistics =, May 17, 2011

An impressive piece of work: although its core appeal is probably limited to nostalgia-addicted baseball nerds (a category which, as far as I can tell, makes up about 99.95% of baseball's fanbase) it succeeds in emotionally engaging people who don't know or care about baseball and are never going to.

The game recounts a famous 1908 screw-up that defined the career of Fred Merkle. From the outset, in no uncertain terms, you're informed that the disaster is coming and that it will scar your life. Yet you still keep working towards it, through a difficult commute and an indecipherable morass of baseball terminology. The game is broken up by flashbacks that imply the main story is just a flashback. There are obvious debts to Photopia and 1893: A World's Fair Mystery; one could choose worse models. It seems diligently researched.

Bonehead has a number of conflicting, emergent morals, some of which the author certainly didn't intend. The point could be that Merkle was a clueless blunderer, only barely holding on moment to moment, and some horrible mishap was inevitable; this comes out of gameplay, and contradicts statements that Merkle was actually pretty savvy. Another is that Merkle is a sort of sticktoitive hero, unable to give less than his all even when it leads to his destruction; this feeling hangs around the story even though it makes no chronological sense. Another, probably closer to the intent, is that even solidly competent people fuck up all the time; whether a fuck-up goes unremarked or haunts you your entire life is largely a matter of luck.

Bonehead's main flaw is a tendency to cheesiness that it can't quite sustain; there's that historical-fiction thing where you always meet significant historial figures who are just now thinking about something that will ring down the ages, and there's a Hollywoodish moment of Touching Redemption. Overall, though, a really strong debut.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
Mid-length well-polished parser game about infamous baseball play., February 3, 2016

Bonehead is an enjoyable game based on real life. You play Fred Merkle, a player for the Giants in 1908, who was famous for a mistake he made that year.

You are taught about baseball in the game, including how to catch and how to hit the ball.

There is a lot of simulation-based information in the game (they tell you exactly what to do for different types of pitches), and so I thought that most of the puzzles would be simulation-based. However, at least two of the puzzles are traditional parser puzzles.

I enjoyed the writing and graphics, and it made the game come alive to me. The chatter of the crowd, the words of the people around you, really transport you to the past.

Great for fans of baseball, history, simulation games, or a good story.

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Excellent Concept, Uneven Execution, May 13, 2011
by RandomExile
Related reviews: Spring Thing 2011

Bonehead is an interactive exploration of an historical moment and it's clear the author invested time and care into the game's design, but it's hindered by some moment-out-of-time scenes which may be more jarring than illustrative, puzzles both cliched and obscure per the subject matter, and in my case, an inability to defeat my apathy toward baseball minutiae.

I wanted to enjoy it because I think empathy and the ability to learn from a time and place are great strengths of the IF medium (and I'm still firmly on the author's team, as it were), but having to participate in certain character interactions felt like a chore, there came points where it's necessary to perform specific unintuitive actions using unfamiliar language (the bag situation, specifically), and while the early puzzles were straightforward (distract Person A to retrieve Item B), the walkthrough carried me through the awkward final stage which I felt was unplayable otherwise.

Baseball aficionados or historians may feel differently, and there are two deeper and altogether more complementary reviews available by Emily Short and Jimmy Maher at the time of this writing. For the rest, there's always Wikipedia.

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This is version 11 of this page, edited by Zape on 17 April 2021 at 3:25am. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item - Delete This Page