The Paris Review

When Lore Bores

Video-game developers continue to search for the golden ratio of game play to storytelling.

Still from Day of the Tentacle Remastered, an updated version of the 1993 game.

My first video-gaming memories are clouded by Amnesia. That game, which comprised nothing more than white text on a black background, haunted me for years. My father bought it for the PC because he saw it on sale at Sears, brought it home, installed it via the command prompt, and then abandoned it. My brother had no use for it, either. They both played Microsoft’s Flight Simulator 3.0, for which we had purchased a joystick, and Tetris, which appeared on the home computer long before its popularity exploded on Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy.

Tetris and Flight Simulator were “real” games, you see. Push the buttons in a skillful way and you would win. You could trump your high score or perfect your landing at Meigs Field. But Amnesia was just a story, a playable story, and from a game-play standpoint it wasn’t even a particularly good one. Like most text-based games, it relied on commands like “eat pizza” (always a favorite of mine) to advance the plot, and like most poor text-based games, it didn’t recognize many of the commands that the player typed. 

But it was

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review11 min read
How Stanley Kubrick Staged the Moon Landing
2001: A Space Odyssey Have you ever met a person who’s been on the moon? There are only four of them left. Within a decade or so, the last will be dead and that astonishing feat will pass from living memory into history, which, sooner or later, is al
The Paris Review5 min read
Crying In The Library
Still from Mary Pickford’s 1911 film Their First Misunderstanding. I’m a crier by nature, but as I have aged, my reasons for tearing up have become more elusive, even to me. Where once I could predict a crying spell, like spotting an East Texas thund
The Paris Review5 min read
Staff Picks: Mothers, Moons, and Marc Maron
Oliver Beer. Photo: Adam Reich. © the artist. Every object, the British artist Oliver Beer said as he introduced his Vessel Orchestra last Friday at the Met Breuer, makes a sound, different for each object but always the same sound, constant and unch