Text adventure. Interactive fiction. Game.
I use the term game. I do so because the term invokes familiarity. Interactive fiction bears a certain connotation of literary competence. Interactive experience seems too clinical; electronic literature not expansive enough. Game makes the idea almost toylike, to be fair, but it’s simplistic enough to build off of, to create an image in your mind ready to be modified and extracted.
What I mean is ” electronic, interactive experience,” but that’s what most games are isn’t it? Words, in this medium, are important in their specificity, but for this case we’ll use the broadest of terms.
NIGHTLIFE is something. Maybe a game.
What does choice have to do with it?
Choice. In many ways it is the most important of the interactivity. More than just the first choice, the choice to open the browser, the first button press, the choice to play.
But once you’ve moved past that first decision, does the game need to allow for more than simply the option to proceed vs. to close. What level of interactivity is needed?
NIGHTLIFE is another entry in the Naked Twine Jam. Merritt Kopas said that the purpose of the Naked Twine Jam was to resist the “commercial videogame logic that seems to infect so much game design,” and in many respects NIGHTLIFE achieves this. The game progresses by clicking the next hyptertext, pushing you further into the day-to-day existence Zetterberg describes. Because the only power you have in this experience is the choice to proceed, it gives added weight to every press of the button.
NIGHTLIFE shines in it’s ability to capture distance. I may be imprinting personal memory on the art, but it seems to capture a distant relationship drawn out through text messages and Skype sex. The short, staccato sentences call to mind quick text messages sent in a moment of longing, without coming out as either a gross invasion of privacy or too saccharine. It feels personal and human without devolving into sap, and while there are few things truly sorted out by the conclusion, it captures the spirit of personal interaction.
But there is no choice. It’s up to you to decide whether that is a problem or not.