Story File
The latest release.
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.
Story File v1
The original competition entry.
Requires a Z-Code interpreter. Visit IFWiki for download links.

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Being Andrew Plotkin

by J. Robinson Wheeler profile


(based on 54 ratings)
5 reviews

About the Story

"Zarf? you think to yourself. Could it be? The one and only Zarf? Xyzzy Award winner? IF Competition winner? The mighty Inscruitable One?

Gosh. What it must be like to be Zarf...

You begin to crawl forward, the tunnel floor oozing and pliable under your knees and palms. The secret door bangs shut and disappears. The tunnel begins to shiver, and from up ahead a roar like a waterfall issues from the darkness."
[--blurb from Competition Aught-Zero]

Game Details

Language: English (en)
Current Version: 2
License: Freeware
Development System: Inform 6
Baf's Guide ID: 911
IFIDs:  ZCODE-1-000928-2C24
TUID: q8y5zup88c9hu499


Winner, Best Game; Nominee, Best Story; Winner, Best NPCs; Nominee, Best Individual Puzzle; Nominee, Best Individual NPC; Nominee, Best Individual PC - 2000 XYZZY Awards

3rd Place - 6th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2000)

Editorial Reviews

Baf's Guide

A parody of the movie Being John Malkovich; here, the target is IF luminary Andrew Plotkin, a.k.a. Zarf, author of Spider and Web, So Far, and other well-regarded games. In-jokey, to some extent--you'll probably get more out of this if (a) you've seen the movie and (b) you're familiar both with Zarf's games and with the IF community as a whole--but still playable without knowledge of the in-jokes. Highly linear with very few puzzles; you really can't get very far from the path the game sets out. This is a very funny effort, though, and it's amusing in a knowing way--the fights over identity that the movie depicts are adapted to the IF context in a way that acknowledges the confusion of the player-PC relationship.

-- Duncan Stevens

>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

I was the perfect audience for this game, or near-perfect anyway. I've seen and enjoyed Being John Malkovich, the film by Spike Jonze. I've hung around the IF scene for a long time. I've played every Plotkin game, even Inhumane. I've also played every Infocom game, which turns out to be helpful as well. Even with all that, I'm not sure I caught every reference (especially given the prodigious list of such references provided by the author in the endnotes), but I think I caught a lot of them. Consequently, I'm not sure how somebody who doesn't fulfill some or all of the above criteria would react to BAP, but I can tell you this: I thought it was a delight.
See the full review

[...] it turned out that the author very carefully both stuck to and deviated from the movie, in exactly the right way so that he could work economical fragments of humor by referencing the movie, and yet deliver jokes all his own.
-- Sean T Barrett

I found the execution of the idea hilarious (and I'm beginning to think I may have to go rent the movie if it's -anything- like this) and particularly with the bits and pieces that let you see the world in different ways (again, more under "NPCs"). To be perfectly honest, I didn't get the optimal ending, and I was in too much of a hurry to try replaying and fixing this, but for some reason that didn't faze me; perhaps just because what I'd experienced up to that point was... cool.
-- Tina Sikorski
See the full review

Being Andrew Plotkin is meant to be a humorous game but I failed to appreciate it or to understand most of what it was about.
-- Dorothy Millard
See the full review


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Member Reviews

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Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
Good and funny game, June 9, 2009

The concept of the game is quite funny : it transposes the movie Being John Malkovitch into the interactive fiction world. I saw the movie before, and when I played it I could see all the references to this (odd) movie ; however, because of an imperfect knowledge of IF classics, I missed some other references to other interactive fiction games (the author provides a list of those references at the end of the game). The game is quite funny in itself too ; the story is linear (not a drawback for me though), and you can sometimes have the impression that you are watching a movie ; the implementation is good (though (Spoiler - click to show)you can take the copier in the early scenes because you can take it afterwards...). Not exactly a classic, but certainly a great game.

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful:
An in-joke, but suitable for a wide audience, November 10, 2007
by Kake (London, England)
Related reviews: J. Robinson Wheeler, ****

Being Andrew Plotkin probably makes a good deal more sense if you've watched Being John Malkovich; so if you haven't seen it, you may well enjoy the game a lot less than I did. I'd definitely recommend watching the film first, if possible, since a fair bit of the amusement I got from the game came from remembering similar scenes in the film. I don't think playing the game first will make you enjoy the film any less, though; and I don't think it counts as a spoiler to note that it's certainly not a direct transplant from screen to, er, screen ó and the ending is quite different.

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Mixed Emotions, June 3, 2020
by Zoe Victoria (Under your bed)

This game was one of the Many Preinstalled text adventures that came when I downloaded Frotz on my iPad. The title seemed interesting so I decided: why not try it out?

I can't say I regret that decision really, I mean the experience was Pretty enjoyable. I enjoyed the dialogue options, that's not really something seen often in this medium, at least not to my knowledge. But I can't help but find the gameplay a little lackluster, you basically type what it tells you to type to advance the story, one of which I personally couldn't manage because I'm (Spoiler - click to show)Not very familiar to the way these games are coded since I use quest to make my games rather than inform. Point is, there really isn't any exploration, or puzzles, or challenges of any kind. So much so that you could probably sell this just as well, if not better, as a non-interactive fiction. A short story, a Zarf fanfic if you will.

I think I'd get a bit more enjoyment out of this game if I had watched the movie this game was based on, or played the game this game was based on,or knew a bit more about the IF community than I do at present. But despite my nitpicking, there We're Things that I enjoyed about this game, namely how the author described locations and such differently depending on the current PC, especially Zarf, I think they nailed his descriptive manner of writing fairly well. So if you're a fan of Zarf and his work, then check this game out. I'm probably just not the target demographic.

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The following polls include votes for Being Andrew Plotkin:

This Is Who We Are by Sam Kabo Ashwell
A considerable number of games exist largely as the commentary of the IF community (or some subset of it) upon the medium and the community itself. These works are likely to be befuddling to outsiders, but provide windows onto blah blah...

IF Compilations (Games made of parts of other games) by penguincascadia
Hello everyone, I'm looking for IF games that are mergers of other IF games or parts of other IF games together. Bonus points if the various games can interact with each other, like objects on one game section being usable in another...

PC's personality integrated with the story by JasonMel
I would like to be able to recommend to someone many examples of interactive fiction in which the player character is far from a cipher or an everyman or everywoman, but is instead a character with a definite personality within a game...

See all polls with votes for this game

This is version 11 of this page, edited by Paul O'Brian on 6 May 2022 at 11:45pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item