Common objects treated as alien?

What games feature objects that would be instantly recognizable to most players, but are described by the game as if the player character is completely unfamiliar with them? I don’t mean games like Rover’s Day Out or Lost Pig where the whole point is that many things are described this way, I mean games where the character is presumably much like the player in most respects and the object’s description sticks out as unusual (even if there is an explanation for it).

Fake example:

And at some point the player goes, “Oh, it’s a soda can.”

One from Spider and Web:

the coffee maker at the very end

A couple in So Far:

the piece of hard candy and the decontamination shower(?) in the power plant

Re Spider and Web:

That one seemed justified to me: the player is in a lab full of incomprehensible machinery for the teleporter, and assumes that the coffee maker must be part of it.

The whole Coloratura is like that. Give it a whirl, it’s fantastic.

There might be some similar instances in A Day For Soft Food.

My memory of Spider and Web is very hazy, but I vaguely recall

something about using the teleporter(?) machine to steal advanced technology? Since Spider and Web takes place on not-Earth I thought the suggestion was that the coffee maker was brought back from a parallel universe or whatever, perhaps by accident. So the character really has no idea what it is.

It’s a trope well entrenched in parser IF, coming from the show-don’t-tell rule. It’s part of the fun in figuring out what they actually are.

I remember a children’s book like that: IIRC, it was told from the perspective of a future archaeologist exploring a modern-day area. Each page would have his/her textual description of some object on the front, and a picture of the objects on the back.

Threnody has a room full of items “from other worlds” than the fantasy one it is set in. Some were ridiculously silly but the others were cute.

Doesn’t the final puzzle in Adventure – the original one – work like this?

You have to use an oddly described stick of dynamite.

I speak from reputation only, as I have never got within a mile of the final puzzle of Adventure.

ralphmerridew, that reminds of David Macaulay’s Motel of the Mysteries.

Matt w - Oh yeah. And come to think about it, Zork II has at least one such item - maybe even two.

IIRC in the original Crowther and Woods version the rod was described just like the rod found earlier, with the only clue being the response to one command:>BLAST
You see no dynamite here.

Nope. One word was different.

Friar Bacon’s Secret is like what you’re looking for, kinda. For the player character, though, the objects aren’t common.

Oooooh, nice one. Yeah, that one’s fun, and more than just being “alien objects” they also provide the game’s main motivation and characterisation of the PC.

The one from Adventure is a neat bit of trivia. I figured examples would go way back, but hey, there’s one from the very beginning.

Since when are sticks of dynamite three feet long and black? Have cartoons misled me?

Horace Miner’s article “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” is like this. Read