Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mid Term Revisited (This time it's for real!)


Brian Kerkan


Narrative and Technology

The purpose of this brief essay is to describe the purpose of my project given that it has been confusing to some what, exactly, I am trying to do. What my CYOA is working with is a few themes. First I was trying, specifically with the video game ends to show that although you have a choice, what video game to play, in reality there is no choice. Whether you choose the sport, rpg, or fighting game it all ends the same. Either you play all night and destroy the system or you go to sleep and the next day comes, nothing more.

The interactive fiction portion of the CYOA was designed to first, make fun of interactive fiction as a entertainment media. I feel like interactive fiction is a boring pursuit in video game form and so the Zork portion was created to show that. The portions involving “Zombies” and “Playing” work off the idea that interactivity can impact the real world, although in extreme forms. Lastly the section involving Eric and the friends was just a bit of an aside created purely for entertainment.

I didn’t create this work of interactive fiction with some high concept in mind. To be perfectly honest I had originally created an argumentative essay on how the definition of “human” must shift with technology or humans will become extinct in the near future but I felt that the essay wasn’t going as I had planned. After toying with some ideas I began writing this CYOA and I felt that it went well. I did not intent to create a CYOA that cured cancer or invented a new scientific field.

Hopefully my CYOA is entertaining, on point, and acceptable for what was wanted and needed to fulfill class requirement.

Brian Kerkan


Narrative and Tech

Night of the Living Dread!!!!

It’s Friday night, 11:30 pm. You have been waiting all evening for your friends to call but, as usual, they haven’t. It has been a boring night and you have tried to find various things to pass the time. First you hopped on the computer and attempted to weave your way through some interactive fiction games. Unfortunately, they almost made your brain melt with how intoxicatingly boring they are. After failing to acquire any sort of satisfaction from the stone-age technology you look around the room for other things to do. Out of the corner of your eye a shiny new PS3 catches your attention. Your parents had bought it for you last week, but it has barely been played due to the enormous amount of reading that has been necessary for a certain technology class you are currently enrolled in. While contemplating which game to play the phone, currently residing in the corner of the room, begins to ring.

If you decide Playstation 3 is too “new school” for you and interactive cra…..I mean fiction is the route to go turn to page 3

If you decide that answer the phone is for losers and you want to get right into the shiny new PS3 action turn to page 2

If you think that it is a good idea to answer the phone turn to page 4

Page 2
Having realized that interactive fiction is for old-timers and that answering the phone is for people who like telemarketers you opt for the vibrant colors and hi-def action of the PS3. The library of games is compelling, your parents are the kind that when they buy something they go all out. Rather than 1 or 2 games, 10 games sit before you in a semi circle of next generation glory. One in particular grabs your attention, you haven’t heard of it before or seen it at any of the games stores. The cover art is bizarre and cheap with a look of wear upon it. The title reads, “Zombies ate my parents……and eventually me”. The other various games spread across the floor vary from sports to role-playing games with a bit of fighting game mixed in for flavor.

If you choose to play “Zombies ate my parents…and eventually me” turn to page 14

If you choose to play a fighting game turn to page 5

If you choose to go with a sports game turn to page 6

If everything else looks unappealing and you’d rather eat up a bunch of time with an RPG turn to page 7

Page 3

You have decided you want to “kick it old school” tonight and go way back to the origins of gaming with some classic interactive fiction. After firing up the old pc you search around the internet a bit and find a wealth of interactive fiction games. Two in particular stand out: “Zork”, and “Playing interactive fiction is for losers so play this one instead”. After examining some reviews you find that most reviewers proclaim “Zork” to be a classic stating that, quote: “it makes you appreciate how far games have come”. “Playing…..” on the other hand has two types of reviews. Some say it’s an amazing interactive game that will restore your faith in the interactive fiction form, while others warn that opening the game infects you computer with a horrible virus that may cause nuclear missiles to launch, leading to a sequence of events that could destroy the earth as we know it.

If you believe playing Zork is the best option, turn to page 8

If PIFIFLSPTOI sound like more your cup of tea, go to page 9

Page 4

You decide its more respectful to answer the phone, besides it might be the friends you have been desperately waiting for. As you reach the phone it is on its third ring, you scramble to pick it up and quickly say “Hello”. After a few seconds a voice comes from the other end “Hello we have an exciting opportunity for you” the voice sounds slightly familiar. “You have been selected for a free vacation to…..” the guy on the other end continues. Caught in another telemarketers trap, ugh. You consider hanging up but you’ve already listened to half the recorded message by now.

If you choose to hang up go to page 10

If you stay on the line go to page 11

Page 5

After deciding that the best way to take out your frustration is to beat on someone, you pick a fighting game. Carefully taking the disc out of its case you slide Ultimate Fighting Game into the PS3. The title screen pops up and you choose the first games mode. After getting beat on for a considerable amount of time by the inhumanely hard computer you switch game modes, still the computer is unbeatable. The game is frustrating and yet it is so frustrating you keep playing and playing becoming more angry at the impossibility of this game. It is like a classic arcade game, infuriatingly hard and yet enticing. Soon the rage within you is approaching an unacceptable level you could quit now and let the computer defeat you or you could push forward and show this computer what’s what.

If you continue playing go to page 12

If you decide to call it a night go to page 13

Page 6

After considerable internal debate you opt for a sports game, it doesn’t matter which one they are mostly all the same. Since you realize that sports aren’t exactly your best field of gaming the difficultly level is set on rookie. You pound the computer into submission again and again every time more satisfying then the last. After what seems like a while you look up at the clock on the wall. It’s 4:30 in the morning. You don’t want to feel like a hardcore gamer and yet the feeling of superiority is incredibly enticing.

If you continue playing to go page 12

If you call it a night go to page 13

Page 7

Wanting to kill time (and forget about the shame you feel from being ditched by your friends) you decide hacking and slashing through ogre and orcs in an RPG is the best option. You slip in Elder Scrolls: The Never-Ending Game. The menu screen loads and you enter the game. The character you create has a plethora of customization options, and you try as hard as you can changing this and that, messing with the flesh tone sliders and the facial shaping feature to get the character to look just right. You customize the armor, abilities, and starting weapon down to the very last detail. Upon finishing your character you take a look at the time. It already 5 a.m.! But you just finished making your character and really want to try it out.

If you decide to continue playing, go to page 12

If you decide to go to bed, go to page 13

Page 8

You decide that going with the tried and true Zork is the best bet. After finding a downloadable version of the game and taking the necessary steps to ensure playability you begin on your Zork adventure. You walk north, walk south, climb in windows, open doors, go through forests, all the while having an excruciatingly hard time finding the correct command that actually does something. After four hours you have managed to find a sword, some treasure, and a game that will help you lose your sanity. Stealing a glance across the room, the glint of the shiny new PS3 catches your eye again.

If you continue playing Zork, go to page 15

If you decide Zork is boring and opt to play the PS3, go to page 2

Page 9

After deciding that a gamble is the way to go, you take the necessary steps to install “Playing…..” despite the risk of world destruction. The game loads, the screen prompts you to press enter. There is still time to turn back now, forget about interactive fiction forever, and possibly save your hide. The screen is bright and entrancing. The font and color contrast seem to lure you in, assuring you that everything will be alright if you just press enter.

If you throw caution to the wind and press enter, go to page 16

If you better judgment kicks in and you decide no game is worth dying for, go to page 17

Page 10

Ugh, fooled again; pulled into the ploy of another fiendish telemarketer. Oh well, it could have happened to anyone. Before the person can say another word, you slam the receiver down, stamp around a bit, and then retire to bed. The next day you go to the mall and surprisingly there are your friends all together. They begin to walk towards you and one of your close friends, Eric, shout; “What the hell man, I was just messin’ with you last night, you didn’t have to hang up on me! Dude that was not cool”. After a considerably long explanation you manage to “cool his jets” and patch things up. You hang out with your friends the rest of the day, and have a great time.

The End

Page 11

You are already this far into the call, what would be the point of hanging up you tell yourself. Just then the tone of the voice on the other line changes, the voice is recognizable now. It is your friend Eric, the one you have been waiting for all night. He explains that he was caught up in a new zombie game and lost track of time. He asks you if you want to still hang out and do something. It is already 11, so the options are limited in terms of stuff to do. The movie theater is closed; bowling alleys close up shop in about an hour. The only real option is for Eric to come over and do something at your house. You ask him if he wants to come over. He replies, “Sure dude”. After about an hour Eric arrives, but something is just not right about him. His skin is pale, paler than usual and his eyes glow red. You shrug it off figuring he is probably just tired; you turn your back and wave him into the house. Just then you are snatched back and an intense pain emanates from your neck. Eric has bitten you. After wheeling around to face him again you realize what was not right all along. Eric is a ZOMBIE, and so are you!

The End

Page 12

You decide to push forward despite the late hour. After awhile your eyes begin to feel very heavy, but you trudge forward anyway not wanting to yield to the call of sleep. Eventually one hand slips off the controller and then the other, you fall asleep. Your system is left on all night and before you awake it has begun to smoke and the CPU has fried due to a faulty fan. You awake to find your brand new PS3 is toasted….maybe you shouldn’t have played video games for so long…..

The End

Page 13

You realize that sleep is an inevitability. Despite the tantalizing video game experience, it is time to call it a night. After prepping for bed you hit the sack exhausted from the extensive play. The next morning you awake and call your friends to find out what happened the night before. They explain that they tried to call but no one picked up. After a lengthy conversation you make plan to hang out that day instead, and you end up having a great time.

The End

Page 14

After much contemplation, turning the choices over and over again in your head, you go with “Zombies ate my parents…..and eventually me”. As you open the box you see that there is a warning label on the disc. It reads “WARNING: This game may cause zombies to attack your neighborhood and kill your parents”. After giving it a quick thought you decide to dive in anyway inserting the disc into the PS3 slot. The PS3 makes a strange squealing noise for a few minutes and then comes to an error screen. Smoke begins to pour from the PS3. After a few more seconds, the PS3 bursts into flames engulfing the entertainment center, the TV, and everything nearby. After taking the necessary precautions to put out the fire you sink down into the couch. Now the PS3 is broken, the TV is melted and there is nothing to do. A few minutes later you hear a strange groaning noise outside the basement window. A quick inspection reveals a group of people with tattered clothes stalking about outside, groaning loudly. Maybe the warning was right….maybe the game actually created ZOMBIES!!!!!

If you go outside and explore go to page 18

If you board up the windows and prepare to bunk up go to page 19

Page 15

Despite better judgment you push forward with the Zork adventure. The hours pass by eventually yielding to days and then months. Yet you still cannot get any further in the game. You try to sleep but Zork haunts you everywhere you go. Soon you never leave the keyboard. The desk is littered with chip bags and assorted energy drinks, allowing you to sleep little and adventure more. One day your body can no longer take the abuse and a massive heart attack ends it all.

The End

Page 16

After arguing back and forth in your mind, you decide the font and pretty colors are just way to enticing. Sweat begins to run down your face, you shift awkwardly in your seat then extend one finger out towards the enter key. After covering your eyes you go for it. Your finger hits the key, the game begins to load. You think to yourself, “that wasn’t so bad, so much for world destruction.” Little do you know halfway across the US a missile silo begins to open. The launch sequence has been activated. You sit oblivious, playing away in the greatest interactive fiction adventure ever. After a few minutes, you hear a roaring sound, similar to an airliner flying overhead, but different; closer. The missile impacts the house and pieces and parts fly everywhere and a great explosion raps the foundation and before long it is all over. You should have known better than to trust interactive fiction.

The End

Page 17

Taking a moment to carefully consideration the consequences, you decide interactive fiction isn’t worth the potential annihilation of the human race. You decide it is late anyway, and any hope of friends calling at this hour is absurd. After searching around the house for something better to do you decide sleep is the best option. After that night you can never look yourself in the mirror. Why couldn’t you just press that button? The game haunts you day after day, beckoning you to press it. After a while you can’t take it anymore and check yourself into a mental institution, never fully recovering.

The End

Page 18

Weighing the risks you decide the thrill of exploration is just too tempting. You run upstairs and prep; knee pads, elbow pads, chest protector, helmet, shovel, everything to combat the possible undead. You run downstairs and burst out the front door ready to be a hero. Taking one quick glance around, you realize that the small group outside has multiplied and now consists of hundreds of flesh eating zombies. Ignoring better judgment you rush headlong into the horde, slashing and hacking away at the zombie throng. One by one they fall, but another replaces them. It is hopeless. Your arms begin to fatigue, your retreat has been cut off, the swings of the shovel become progressively weaker. Eventually the zombie horde overtakes you and it all comes to a tragic end

The End

Page 19

Having read the Zombie Survival Guide several times you decide that it is best to stay inside and prepare for the inevitable struggle. You go upstairs, collect all the canned food possible, and ascend the upper staircase. After stockpiling food, water, and weapons you burn down the staircase to ensure zombies reach you. Day after day passes and still the zombie mass swarms around the house. Playing that game begins to look like a worse and worse idea. You can look forward to months of sitting and waiting alone.

The End

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