PEGBRJE: ‘falling is not the same thing as dying’ and Surprise Mechanic: The Gaming Trivia
Words for everyone.
Side note: There is actually a game in between these two that would have been reviewed instead of Surprise Mechanic called ‘Figment’. However, I did not realize it is an online game and needed to request an alpha code for it. I’m currently awaiting my code, and will post my overview of it when I can!
‘falling is not the same thing as dying’ is a interactive narrative autobiography by Sisi, an indie dev and Kutaku reporter based out of the United States. Players will be reading as a young Chinese girl in high school attending a tennis practice, silently airing the grievances felt due to numerous circumstances that cannot be controlled.
As a Twine game, players will be clicking on the bolded text in order to continue the story forward. Not all text gives a new screen to read, some will reveal ‘hidden’ text to give more context to the situation, revealing emotions that may not be stated outright or hidden behind a mask. If any information is missed, players can rewind back with the ‘previous’ button on the top left — it does not always keep the page progress, so to allow for the reading experience again.
As one might be able to infer from a description such as ‘autobiographical game’, this is a deeply personal tale about going through high school as an Asian girl in the USA. Each of the issues are compounded on top of one another, such as the animosity felt towards her as a Chinese student amongst a sea of white that oscillates between blunt and passive aggressive. There’s the feeling of anxiety and annoyance in the realm of gender and sexuality, as Maddie simply assumes that our protagonist needs a boyfriend to get the practice — not only are they a lesbian, but also I was not aware that ‘practice’ was required to find a loving relationship. Taking a step back comes the fact that girls are commonly stripped of their identity to become wives, including the uncomfortable history of how ‘expensive’ Chinese girls are thanks to the late ‘one-child policy’. It all comes to a head as these questions and worries make one wonder how to move forward in a society that does not accept a different self than the standard.
As it might be obvious, I’m quite the polar opposite of the ‘protagonist’ here as a country bumpkin-originating male Canadian — our tennis team was 3 kids, the tennis court was nowhere close and I’m fairly certain the school couldn’t afford rackets, much less an actual coach. That isn’t necessarily the point, however; this is a story that wants you as the reader to understand the realities that many others go through in their lives. Sisi is trying to give us a glimpse in to a world they lived through through their perspective, one that alienated them simply by existing as something different. Sure, the language is harsh and crass, but just Sisi does not know exactly what is going on in the heads of those ‘Urbanites’, we as the reader also don’t have the experiences of living and interacting with these people to really have a basis for judgement. We are given only a vertical slice in the form of a tennis practice, and can only see what is written.
It’s a short read, but one that will resonate with many that have long felt this way living within North America. If you want to see a small tale through the eyes of one individual, and also see someone get called an ‘apple pie girl’ then by all means try this one out.
Surprise Mechanic: The Gaming Trivia is a party trivia game by Sword Garden Studios, an indie developer from Spain who brought us The Tower: The Order of XII back on page 22. This time, players will be answering video game questions in the hopes of beating their friends, or simply beating themselves.
Starting up a game will have players join in to a set amount of questions before settling in for the barrage. If played solo, players can choose between a simple 20 questions, 100, or all of them before receiving a question and a timer and selecting the correct (or incorrect) answer. In multiplayer mode, however, this trivia is instead turned in to a minigame within the trivia. There is a ‘surprise mechanic’ on the top of the screen, detailing an action that players need to do while giving their answer. This is not necessarily a ‘rule’ but a possibility to spice up the gameplay. There is a streaming mode as well to allow for timers, hidden answers and counters so that there are more options to play with others.
It’s an intriguing concept, allowing you to test your video game knowledge with friends in a fun and engaging format. There can be some issues with the text and translation, and some of the incorrect answers are hilariously incorrect, but if you can get through these hiccups it can be a fun way of spending an afternoon.