New Games is an pervasive interactive fiction game where the player is the newest friend in a friend group in college. The player is given the numbers of several actors, who improvise as these characters. Throughout the game, timed events will occur that put pressure on the group. This is a format that can be adapted to any group of people, story, and time span.
For my run of the game, it was a 5 character story. The characters are as follows:
Alex Lahey: Alex is the straight man of the group. Hes a pretty confident charismatic guy who is pretty chill and kid. Hes had a fairly good upbringing, he has a younger sister, but his parents are recently divorced. He keeps his head up most of the time. Overall, he’s an optimist. He cares a lot about his friends, but he isn’t an emotional anchor in the group. he’s always down to listen but advice isn’t his thing. He also doesn’t talk a whole lot about his issues, but to be fair he doesn’t have a lot of them. Computer Science major with a music minor. Very knowledgeable about his passions, but sometimes can be pretentious about them and gatekeep a little.
Charlotte Web: Shes a long time friend of Krista, and found her way into the overall friend group. She’s kinda jaded and standoffish, but she is fiercely loyal and cares a lot about her people. At this point in the story, everyone is her people, even Jacob, who is kinda new. Sometimes she can get a little shrewd, but ultimately she is a good person, who can be very caring and empathetic. However, sh is also very competitive. She also holds a really high expectation of herself. This kind of intersects into the fact that she is a really devoted gymnast and has been from a young age. She often pushes herself too hard. She also has a lot of personal image issues, including an eating disorder that she has been living with since middle school. She never went through proper precautions to remedy the eating disorder, so its still very present. She’s also pretty closed off about her issues.
Krista Sartano: She’s an architecture major who is kinda cynical and goofy. She had a lot of medical issues all her life. There’s a lot of tension in her family because f it. So she kind of ignored a lot of her medical issues recently, trying to be independent. She is dating Kate. Shes in the middle in terms of introvert vs extrovert. She’s strong willed and socially competent, but she’s very loyal and focused on small amounts of people. She’s not a large party goer, but enjoys medium sized social events. She can be very gentle. She also has minor depressive disorder and anxiety, but feels invalidated by other people’s pain, so keeps it to herself.
Kate Mulligan: Really sweet person. Very kind and selfless. She is a little bit straight edge, but tries not to judge others too much. Comes from a very sheltered background with a lot of privilege. She’s beginning to try and reform her perceptions and biases. Raised liberal in Boston, but lived in a very white neighborhood, so she has the paradigm that comes with that. She is a very happy person, who gets stressed sometimes from overwork but stays chill most of the time. Sometimes lacks true empathy from lack of experience. Kind of has a holier than thou attitude when giving advice. She is dating Krista. She has an older sister, they’re pretty close.
Jacob Dark: His parents died when he was 9 years old. Lived with family friend (Mom’s old friend). He was a single father. He was kind. Two foster sisters, one younger, one older. Jacob was verbally and physically abused by his older sister, and even raped by her when he was 11. He moved across country for college to escape. Very quiet, highly depressed and introverted. Not many hobbies or friends. Reads and watches TV a lot. Really good artist, doesn’t show off art to anyone. Studies a decent amount, gets okay grades. Undecided major. Got into the friend group through Kate, kind of distant from the group, but cares a lot about everyone. Asexual, mild PTSD, beginning to come out of his shell. Doesn’t pick up on social cues, but is very careful about what he says.
Before game starts: Kate and Kris have been fighting because Kate doesn’t listen well and just tries to fix Kris’s problems.
Thursday Evening: Game begins
Friday Night: Kris is admitted into the hospital from unforeseen medical emergency.
Saturday Morning: Alex learns that his Dad is now dating a family friend who he had been close with during the marriage.
Saturday Night: Kris is diagnosed with very aggressive Brain Cancer, probably terminal.
Sunday Night: Jacob’s abuser calls him.
Monday afternoon: Kris falls into a coma.
Monday 6:00: Game ends.
I gave the actors a lot of creative liberties to make the character their own. People stepped up to the plate, even role-playing with each other to work out character interactions. The game is reliant on frequent texting and competent improv. Many elements of the game were figured out on the fly, but the overall game became very cohesive.
The biggest issue in the game was schedules. This was a very hard week for a lot of people, meaning that people couldn’t text the player as much as they wanted, and there would be large gaps in time where nothing would happen. This game would work a lot better when people aren’t so busy.
All conversations can be found in the following link: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1RYWYUXm0pWpQEpsNjlhYOKpJ52RykAsZ?usp=sharing
This game was made in attempts to find a new way to tell a story. I love how games can be non-linear and player-guided, and I knew I wanted to tell a story about people. I settled on some sort of Interactive Theater, where I would use actors to interact with a player. But, inspired by a lot of pervasive games we looked at, I wanted this game to feel like something more than a game, and to take place over a longer period of time.