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A comment on reading conventions, March 24, 2021
This is a one-trick game which makes an insightful comment on the conventions which the player uses to interact with the game.
The twist got me, and made me laugh. It's more or less fair, though, as I saw on the second playthrough.
It reminds me of an Orson Scott Card essay on how to read science fiction: the experienced science-fiction reader is looking for the world-building clues in the story as they read, and constructing the world rules, how it works, in their head from the clues dropped in the text. A reader not used to science fiction can get lost, as did some of the students in his course.
The same approach happens when we play an interactive fiction game. There is a process of exploration to figure out the world model. There are also certain conventions, or shorthands -- as there are in science fiction -- where the writer can import a lot of assumptions at once, from previous gameplay (like previous SF), without spelling it all out.
(Spoiler - click to show)9:05 plays a trick with those assumptions.
This also engages with the discussions by many IF luminaries about the coercive nature of game design, where the player is given the illusion of choice but the author is actually restricting the player's options to the preselected ones. This is particularly apparent in second-person media like most IF. In fact, to avoid player frustration, it is standard design advice now to use the text to hint the player in the "correct" direction, and the player usually follows it. Of course, the author can also mislead the player. (Spoiler - click to show)And very elegantly, 9:05 does.