What is Jason Nelson Trying to Accomplish in his Interactive Fiction?

After playing The Bomar Gene, I noticed similarities between the game and We Feel Fine. I tried to find a linear sequence in which I could attempt to beat the game, but I was only able to capture mini stories about random people. For instance, one of the clicks led me to the story of Joanna Howard, who could apparently make people younger just by touching them. I guess I found some joy in playing the picture matching game. The pictures reminded me of my parents’ old photographs from the seventies and eighties. The story behind the photos seemed a little more intriguing than the actual game, how Rosario Buena found photographs from different time periods and settings that looked exactly the same. This made me ask, what is the author trying to accomplish in his fiction?

Perhaps the Nelson is trying to force the players to abandon their habitual need to find a starting point, and find a linear sequence in which to finish the game. Maybe he simply wants us to be evoked by odd stories while holding on to our attention using interactive graphics. Should we, the readers appreciate the stories being told, or do we appreciate Jason Nelson’s ability to present it?

In addition to The Bomar Gene, I also focused on I Made This. You Play This. We Are Enemies. I beat this twice because I wanted to see if my score really was “42 and has always been.” During the first time I played this game, which looks like a rip off of Nintendo’s Paper Mario, but in a good way, I detected a very sarcastic tone in the author that seem to say, “you are playing the easiest 2D game ever created, so don’t flatter yourself.” So I felt like it would be worth a shot to go through the game again and try to find more significance behind the game.

Even during my first play of the game, I tried to read the text closely. But again, my nature to play games has always been primarily to beat the game. Yet at the introduction of Nelson’s game he says, “’figuring out’ is for controlled centered hedonists with bees for hair.” So that made me think although the game appears to be time driven or tries to pressure you into completing a level as fast as possible, I think the real challenge is to force myself to slowdown and just take a look at the text on the 2D screens.

I think the first thing that Nelson wants us to do is too simply appreciate his video game art. But he also wants us to break through the habit of trying to find a sequential path toward completing an objective, like we seem to do in more traditional games, and lastly find some significance behind all the chaos of images, sounds, and text within the game. I guess that last part may prove to be the ultimate challenge.

One thought on “What is Jason Nelson Trying to Accomplish in his Interactive Fiction?”

  1. You’re definitely onto something when you say that “I think the real challenge is to force myself to slowdown.” We’ll talk in class about the significance of these chaotic games/texts, but even before we discuss that aspect of Nelson’s work, I think we should recognize that a central goal of his work is to make consumption of it difficult. Are there any clues in his work about why he might want to do that?

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