And Now For Something Completely Different

I am a real person, made of more than pain and growth, and sometimes, I need a break from the heavy stuff. Based on how intense this last week of entries has been, I think you may need a break from it too. Either way, I’m going to write a few lighter entries, likely about media that I enjoy, or simple things that make me truly happy in this world. If this isn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine. Our regularly scheduled content will be back soon.

I’m going to begin with a free game that I found on Steam called Emily is Away. Here is the game’s official website, and I’d like you to keep in mind that the image displayed above is part of their game, and that I’m only posting it here for illustration and discussion purposes. It’s not my property in any way. Ok, moving on.

Emily is Away is a simple game- the player just chooses speech options and taps away at their keyboard- with a complicated emotional undercurrent. It’s fairly well-made, in that it really, really feels like old AIM chats actually did, but also poorly made, in that I was just flying blind and discovering context as I went along. I know that exposition doesn’t all need to come at the beginning of every story, but in interactive mediums, like video games, it is really helpful to know who the main character is. Personal preference.

It’s really hard to pin down how I feel about this game because of how different my experience was from that of the players who were ranting in the game forums.

In my game, I realized that I was playing a noncommittal, emotionally distant young man who kept inserting himself into Emily’s life long after he had lost the right to take up any of her time. (I really, really wanted to end the final conversation early. We had already determined that Emily and I weren’t going to amount to anything, she had already chosen to date someone else, and here I was, forced to keep prying into her life and her summer plans. No. Just no.)

On the forums, I saw horrible comments like “This is what’s wrong with women,” and so on. There are people who really got angry at Emily for choosing someone else, and they pushed that anger out onto all women, as if they’ve actually met and tried to date all of us. Or as if we are all the same. That. Angers. Me.

It simply isn’t ok to make sweeping generalizations about a group of people. All women, all blacks, all men, all blondes, all pink haired alien sheep from Triton… No. That is not a coherent group that you can draw generalizations from, except for very, very basic ones like “all X eat food” or “all X need oxygen.” That is the limit of factual generalization, and beyond that, it’s just your pain clouding your vision and making you into a jerk.

So, you see, it was an ok game in my experience, albeit a little awkward at the end. My interaction with other players was difficult to say the least, but the developers aren’t to blame for that. They designed a game that really captures the awkwardness and pain inherent in relationships that transcend major life changes. Emily and the player (Ziba, in my case) were friends in high school, and they tried to continue that friendship into college. They went to different schools, they made different friends, they studied different majors… it really is hard to connect well after all of that.

At the end of the day, I think that Emily is Away is a good game that depicts common experiences quite well. How the player responds to it will depend entirely upon what baggage he or she brings to the keyboard. Take that for what it’s worth.

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