The Place by Ima
This piece has a strange blurb which apologises for the fact that your choices do NOT matter. It then goes on to say: “I am a believer of absurdity, that our actions in the end have no meaninging in the interacting force between humans and universe.” Well, that’s bleak. Normally I would say to an author that there is an important difference between choices that do not affect the outcome of a game and choices that do not matter: even if they lead to the same destination, choices can be meaningful! But Ima is clearly telling us that choices are not even meaningful. Why then write a piece of interactive fiction? Why write at all, given that writing is a process of making choices in an attempt to build up meaning?
But in fact, these questions do not seem particularly important when we play The Place itself. It’s the story of how we meet a young woman, who then returns (the reasons are unclear) to her abusive parental home, where she locks herself in her room and dreams about travelling. This story seems to have little direction; it’s not really going anywhere. But maybe that is precisely the point? For the moral drawn at the end of the piece is “that best place to be, to escape to, is our inner space.” And so perhaps we should read the story as descent into inner space – although it hardly succeeds at making the point that this takes us to the best place, given that the game gets progressively bleaker as it goes inward.
(By the way, the fact that the game has a moral is clearly in tension with the nihilism of the blurb. Perhaps this too is an ironic move – but I’m failing to see much evidence to support such conjectures.)
A key mechanics of The Place is that it asks you to enter elements of your own life: your favourite song, your favourite colour, something that made you happy this week. I was unsure what this was intended to accomplish. A feeling of connection with the main character? The main effect it had on my own story is that it made it fairly ridiculous. Something that made me happy last week was winning two Xyzzy Awards… but this turned up in the game text like this:
At the end of the game, you are asked “Where is the ideal place?” I answered: “in our imagination”. And so the final moral came out like this:
Which doesn’t work at all!
The work is also marred by writing that is hard to understand. The quoted sentence from the blurb is an example – I understand what it is fro actions to have no meaning, but what is it to “have no meaning in the interacting force between humans and universe”? What is an “interacting force” anyway? Aren’t forces rather the means by which things interact? Sometimes the unclarity is so great that I fail to understand the meaning of the phrase at all, with this being a particularly egregious example:
All in all, I can’t say I got much out of the game.Things could be markedly improved by rethinking the approach to entered text, and by doing some further thorough editing of the prose.