The Play‘s The Thing

A screenshot from browser game The Play by Deirdra Kiai

Border House author Deirdra Kiai has a new game out called The Play. It is a browser-based choose-your-own-adventure-style text-based game about a disastrous dress rehearsal. You play as the director of the play and have to manage the attitudes of your three actors and your stagehand in order to get through the rehearsal.

The game is very funny, but there’s also more to it: the game is also an examination of sexual harassment and how a person is forced into choosing between challenging sexual harassment at the expense of their own success, or trying to ignore it in order to not lose their livelihood. I never thought I would play a game about sexual harassment that was funny without making light of harassment, but The Play absolutely succeeds.

The Play also won third place in this year’s Interactive Fiction Competition. Congrats, Deirdra!

Play The Play here–it only takes 15 minutes or so, and there are multiple endings so replaying is encouraged–and when you’re done, read more about the game’s background at Deirdra’s blog.

6 thoughts on “The Play‘s The Thing”

  1. I just did one run through of The Play and it reminded me of the fun of the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. I agree that it did a wonderful job of addressing sexual harassment while being silly and funny but without making harassment itself the butt of a joke. Great job Deirdra! I look forward to running through it again but making different choices the next time.

  2. I’ve done a few run-throughs.

    I’d say The Play compares favorably to most–if not all–of the Choice of Games catalog: the player can review xyr choices so far, as the interface simply extends downward (rather than going to a new screen); the player receives feedback on xyr decisions as they occur, rather than having to check on them elsewhere; the player is not discouraged from evaluating xyr situation; the game is fairly brief in terms of wall-clock time yet provides both a sense of completion and an actual ending (the review blurb), rather than going for a cliffhanger (CoG main, bar Broadsides) or shaggy-dog non-ending; and finally, having attractive illustration without locking up Firefox halfway through.

    Not bad at all, Ms. Kiai.

    1. Yes, one thing I forgot to mention is the game has a better interface than any other CYOA game I’ve played. The background sets the scene (ha) without being distracting, the way the paragraphs appear or disappear as you make choices is super neat. And it’s clear which links are a choice and which let you find out more about someone or something without any explanation at all. And having the play action written like a script is a nice touch.

      It’s a very polished piece!

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