Like reading a book, playing a game can take us to different places and allow us to see different ways of living without ever having to get up from the sofa. Unlike books, games take the experience further by offering interactivity. There are plenty of books out there that relay the experience of being a writer but you don’t actually get to live the experience in quite the same way you would with a game.
This is where Eveline comes in, a free in-browser game from Pippin Barr in which you play an aspiring writer determined to writer a short story and get it published. It’s a common goal, one that’s easy to relate to, but the relatability of Eveline doesn’t stop there. The game places you in a small living room where your only real task is to make your way to your typewriter and churn out some words. When you first head to the typewriter you’re filled with that sense of “yes a fresh page, I can do this!” but then you start writing.
Though you don’t have to deal with the difficulty of actually thinking of words to write (the game does that for you), as you push the keys on your laptop to make words appear on your on-screen typewriter the experience feels isolating and long. Your fingers can feel tired and though you’re entertained reading what comes out – the words come up at just the right speed for reading – you get that itching feeling of distraction. Once the game determines you’ve done enough for the day it stops you and tells you your word count. “288 words” You can’t help but feel a sense of, “Is that all? It looked like so much.”
Then the next day rolls around and you’re not sure you want to sit back down at the typewriter immediately so you wander around the flat, picking up books to read, turning on the radio, staring out of the window and, I especially felt this one, lying on the floor to stare at the ceiling. And so the game goes on day after day as you continue to write.
The real kick comes at the end of the game where, once you’ve done all that writing and sent your work off, you’re contacted by the publisher with a rejection. Your writing was great, it’s just that you managed to write the James Joyce short story Eveline word for word.
It gives you the sense that no matter what the medium is, it’s simply the story of another story which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Actually, arguably it’s an essential thing – there are lots of ways writing, reading, and playing games cross over and inform each other and this game explores them, bringing a related understanding to three seemingly separate things. Intertextuality offers depth to the story you’re interacting with and it reinforces the idea that there’s no one central way to tell a story. By inserting Eveline into this storytelling tradition of ‘borrowing’ from other works it praises the possibilities of game narratives and highlights the different strengths of different mediums. Plus, it managed to get you to read a really great piece of fiction without even realising it.
You can play Eveline for free in your browser by following this link. Happy writing!