Interactive Fiction Review

The story Quing's Quest VII is an interactive fiction story made through Twine, which tells the short tale of a gender-fluid hero who has been kicked off of their home planet alongside their co-pilot, a fellow gender-fluid space pirate. Their identities make them outcasts from their home planet of 'Videogames', which has been overrun by a group called 'mysogynerds', who form a male ruling class which run the planet and the subordinate females. The two heroes are shown living on their stolen spaceship, acting out a relatively normal day until they are nearly arrested and make a final choice to change their lives, either by abandoning their home planet, destroying it, or saving it.

The choices in the game have strange effects on the overall gameplay. The reader cannot continue their daily quest until they have chosen a look for their hero, dressed them in a ridiculous outfit, styled their hair, and taken a selfie. The story has only a handful of choices, which are not active choices that drive forward the plot, but instead allow the reader to learn exposition from their co-pilot or to flirt with them. The action is poorly paced, and the point of the piece is clearly just to generate a laugh from the player, provided they have a good sense of humour and enjoy campy graphics and overt nods to real-world nerd culture. The glittery pink and yellow text paired with the pixellated graphics, background gifs of stars, and retro styling on the title give the piece an overall nostalgic feeling, which contrasts heavily with the more modern themes of internet social justice and gender fluid heroes, but which aligns well with the long-standing tradition of certain men gate-keeping nerd communities. The author acknowledges that the piece is an over-the-top, goofy approximation of how it feels to be policed within the gaming commnuity, and though there is no action that the player can drive throughout the story until the penultimate decision, the game provides a good laugh and a multitude of possible endings, all of which are nevertheless quickly resolved by the author once the humour of the previous situations (i.e. a dance-off with the cops, and a long list of escape options that continually deny the player until the dance-off is initiated) has ended. Overall, the medium is perfect for this story, but the author does not make full use of the potential for poor choices to leave the reader at a dead-end path, therefore encouraging replaying.

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