Katamari Adventure
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Katamari Damacy gets rolled up into a text adventure

Game designer Keita Takahashi’s Katamari Damacy (2004) is easily one of the most charming videogames of all-time. It had a silly premise, a colorful aesthetic, and a grin-inducing soundtrack. Katamari Damacy was like no other game in existence. An underrated aspect of it, though, is its whip-smart writing. From the bizarre story of the King of All Cosmos knocking out all of the stars in the sky after a drunken binge, to the descriptions of all the mundane items the Prince’s magical ball rolls up on Earth, Katamari Damacy’s quirky writing embellished everything else that made the game so notable.…

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Twinescapes, or The Rise of Spatial Hypertext

At least 100 pages of four novels. At least 20 pages of maybe half a dozen others. Not one book finished, not even in rough draft. These are the vital statistics of my long war with fiction. For most of my life now it’s been my fondest wish to write and to publish a novel. Sometimes I’ve wanted to author a book of the Great-American-sort, other times my ambitions have been more humble, or more genre-bound. Sometimes my drafts have been muddy slogs through self doubt, other times they came as if poured from a vase by a woman in…

Dissonance
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A videogame dares to ask “What is the meaning of life?”

You might head into Dissonance assuming it to have something to say about so-called “ludonarrative dissonance.” Because that’s all people can think about when the word dissonance comes up in the videogame space, apparently. And, actually, upon playing through the first couple of minutes, you might find that suspicion of yours steadily coming true. You’ll be reading along with this virtual novelette and, all of a sudden, a maze game will appear at the end of the first chapter. It’ll seem completely dissociated with what you’ve just read as well as the entire format of reading a book; it’s like it’s been…

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Fragile Soft Machines wants to know how you deal with hardship

It’s unusual to see butterflies used as a metaphor for tragedy. Within the framework of the English language at least, they’ve enjoyed being symbols for beauty, freedom, and transformation—the English poet John Clare’s “lovely insect.” Perhaps the closest to an inversion we have to that established appropriation is Chinese philosopher Zhang Zhou’s famous butterfly dream: “I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?” This is why Diane Mueller’s Fragile Soft Machines, which…

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Infini-Quest teaches us to focus on the journey, not the destination

You’ve done it, haven’t you?

Of course you have—you’re a human being, and more than that, one who has the spoils of modern living out to entertain you at every corner. It all became a noise to you at one point, didn’t it? You were lost; tragically you’d say, in the toils of a life yet to be lived. And so you desperately sought a spiritual guide to put you on a path, to give meaning to your actions, to help you break the surface of the humming vacuum of automated sentience you were desperate to escape.