The Game Of Life

by Jessie Roberts

The Novelist is a video game with an unconventional objective:

[T]he player is tasked with guiding an author named Dan Kaplan and deciding how he will spend his days. There are no bullets or rocket launchers here: the core conflict revolves around Dan’s ability—or inability—to balance his career, his marriage, and his relationship with his son.

You, the player, don’t directly control Dan; instead you are a ghost who inhabits his house. You can watch, observe, and manipulate at your discretion. One day, you might direct Dan to sit and work on his novel, boosting his career at the cost of neglecting his wife and son. Another day you might have help out his wife at an art show, or take his kid to the beach. Every time you go down one branch, the other two could suffer.

The idea, designer Kent Hudson says, is to make us all think about how we approach our own major life decisions. “There’s no winning or losing,” Hudson told me during a lengthy phone chat a few weeks ago. “You play through and get a story that my hope—and this sounds so pretentious—but my hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question in nine different ways over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values.”

(Hat tip: Page-Turner)