IF Comp ’08 Review – Anonymous’s Freedom!October 6, 2008
This is the first game I have any prior knowledge of at all, and I don’t know how to feel about having it. In case you’d rather not have it yourself, I’m’a roll that big old spoiler warning and you can stop reading now.
[spoilers start here]
So, apparently, this is a game about what it’s like to have social anxiety disorder by someone who has social anxiety disorder. I have also heard it is very very very boring. Maybe that is what social anxiety disorder does, makes everything much more boring. I swear, though, everyone I know either has social anxiety disorder or works at a porn store or both, so it’ll be interesting to find out what it’s like, assuming the game conveys the experience accurately. Also it’ll be interesting to find out what my friends with social anxiety disorder thought of it. It’s possible that by “interesting” I mean “very very very boring.” We’ll find out, I guess.
[spoilers get spoilerier starting here]
Huh. Do I want the normal checkout line, the express checkout line, or the automated checkout line? I mean, should I assume that as a person with social anxiety disorder I would take the automated line? Also, I haven’t actually picked up any groceries. Is that going to matter?
> buy groceries
Buy what now?
…groceries? I thought? The last time I typed “buy groceries” you said I had to get in line!
Oh, okay, I was in fact supposed to get food first. (I confuse easily, okay!) Hmm. Tempted to go with the normal checkout line to see what horrible things are going to happen to me when I’m confronted with a person. It’s actually making me nervous to think about, like, really for real in real life, but I’m going to do it anyway.
You carefully scan and pay for the groceries, while the supermarket employees glare at you. After bagging them, you carry them out the door.
Huh? Did the game itself just assume I was going to go with the automated line, or did the cashier refuse to scan my groceries because I have social anxiety disorder, or what?
It takes longer to cross a road when you have social anxiety disorder. On the way back I bet the light is going to change before I’m done crossing and someone is going to try to hit me with their car and I am going to have to leap out of the way and there will be people watching and one of them will say “nice one, shitdick,” and they will point and laugh and I will not be able to kill them with my mind because social anxiety disorder does not make a person telepathic.
Oh, fuck me in the face, I brought my groceries to a bookstore! Wait, is that bad? I think it’s only weird if there are more than two bags or the bags are the large paper kind. In any case, it’s awesome how convenient my apartment is to everything. Everything that I want nothing to do with because of my social anxiety disorder.
Actually what I should’ve done is gone to the bookstore first and then stopped to get groceries and then… wait, I have to go over there for that meeting anyway. That’s fine, then.
I suspect I want to go to the west, where there are fewer people. You know, though, if I didn’t know I had social anxiety disorder, I would not have picked up from the room description that the large group of people milling around was in any way unpleasant. I get the sense the author just assumed this would be obvious to everybody, and I can understand this from the other extreme, because I forget sometimes that some people hate parties.
(See, to me a party means your friends are going to be there, and it’s a reason to dress up, and you’ll probably get fed and boozed, and people might say interesting or funny things, and you might say interesting or funny things, and maybe you’ll meet someone who wants to have sex with you, or maybe something really weird will happen like I don’t know someone will bring a monkey or there will be a spontaneous frozen-turkey juggling contest or something. To Riff a party means someone is going to rip his chest open and shit in it, I think.)
Huh. I can’t seem to figure out what to say to the young woman, and there isn’t a walkthrough, so I guess I am done here. Honestly, if this was meant to be a terrifying game about how scary other people are, it could’ve done a much better job. I was all nervous just knowing the premise, because the things I can imagine people doing are just awful, so actually most things came as a relief. For one thing, I didn’t even have to talk to the bookstore clerk, which is good, because there didn’t seem to be one.
Also, I don’t know how feasible this is, but if the author is planning to continue work on this, it might be good to get someone without social anxiety disorder involved, for perspective, since the author is operating under several extra layers of terror that would need to be added manually for someone who actually likes parties to really feel the weight.
I don’t know. I didn’t have fun playing it, and I don’t feel like I’m any closer to knowing what it’s like to have social anxiety disorder, which I believe was the whole point. Don’t feel like I can be gratuitously mean under the circumstances (“This is a game about the disorder I have that makes me afraid of people because I think they’re going to be mean to me all the time,” I mean, come on, just try to be an asshole in the face of that*) but I would be lying if I claimed to think it was a good game. I’m going to take the automatic-checkout-line way out here and just refuse to give it a score.
(Riff, it turns out, can be an asshole in the face of anything. I’m quite looking forward to shitting in his chest.)
Update: Apparently you are supposed to [big giant spoiler] give the woman a hug. (I had thought of that, but didn’t think hugging a stranger was something I would ever do, or that she would necessarily want.) So… the moral of this game is that whenever I see someone who looks like they have social anxiety disorder, I should go up to them and give them a hug. Without smiling, SMILE is an unrecognized verb. Just go up and grab ‘em and squeeze the fuck out of ‘em.