Monday, May 25, 2015

Online Text Adventures: Gaming With Your Girlfriend

Here's a scenario that might sound a little close to home; your girlfriend doesn't like first person shooters, mysteriously forgets how to use an Xbox controller when you pick the game, and paying two MMO subscriptions is kind of silly when she alt-tabs between the game and FarmVille while you're getting mauled by ogres. And for PC gamers, who can afford to build two gaming rigs?
Yeah, I've been there. And trust me, she's never going to appreciate that bad guy's head exploding into millions of bloody, gorgeously rendered pixels as much as you do.

My girlfriend loves what she calls "clickity-clickity" games, which is anything from Age of Mythology to Plants Vs Zombies. We had fun playing Spore together, or rather, taking turns adding naughty bits to our creatures. But eventually I get bored because I like to hop between games, often. A one hour gaming session for me consists of 20 minutes of Grand Theft Auto, a couple rounds in Battlefield and some Tony Hawk.
Luckily, we both like reading and watching Netflix. We like to find a movie and then count down "!" as we try to get both computers playing the same movie at the same exact time. Which really works, because we both love playing online text games, so we can watch the movie while we go raid some villages in the text game world (if you've never played an online text game and watched Netflix, it's something I highly recommend any couple should do, as it eliminates the dilemma of 'games-or-TV' entirely).
Online text games are exactly that - they're just MMOs without graphics. Some people say they're like those choose-your-adventure books where you turned to page 76 if you wanted to take the stairs or page 45 for the elevator, but that description barely does text games justice. Perhaps you're thinking "text games sound so lame, why don't they have graphics, blah blah".
No, dude, hear me out for a sec. They're addicting like you wouldn't believe. It's like, imagine if the different cities in World of Warcraft were actually run by the players. All the stores you shop in are player owned. The shirt and pants you bought were designed by another player. All those houses along the street, players bought and actually live in. We're talking about a fully functioning persistent world with player-held elections, a real economy that fluctuates based on the actions of the players, and developers that actually care about their product and interact with it.
A $300 graphics card, i7 processor and 8gb of RAM... it doesn't matter, my imagination blows any graphics out of the water. And the developers of text games know that, so they're able to take advantage of it and implement mechanics that graphical game engines wouldn't be able to handle. Imagine how much your framerate would drop if you had 200 people on the screen with explosions and magic spells and bodies flying everywhere. I think your game would probably crash, bro. But text games are able to handle those kinds of scenarios... and decapitating someone is so much more satisfying in a text game because it's not the same animation you've seen over and over again.
So next time you can't figure out what game to play with your girl, give text games a try. She'll have fun designing clothes, gossiping with her gals and influencing city politics while you're out mercilessly slaughtering foes on the battlefield, and then when you get back from raiding another city you can both go sailing together to quest and explore distant islands.
By Tony Celentano
If you have 99 problems and a girlfriend IS one, check out some quality text adventures and see if they could be solution!
Tony Celentano is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from
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