Apartment F209 / Ben Parrish
|The Landlord of Apartment F209's Verdict:
|Who is this Parrish guy, anyway?
|The Dude In Charge of the SPCA's Verdict::
||The game depicts
player-directed cruelty to animals. I am not at all amused.
|A snapshot of generational angst that paves the way
for more personal IF-based stories.
|According to his website,
"Kind soul, looking for same. Oh, and: 'Skydiving.'" More impressively, the
author of Annoyotron and Aggravatron: Annoyotron II. He also
achieved a level of fame with the internet Pong Faq.
Depression can often be good for the soul.
Sure, there is always the possibility of taking it to the extreme. I used to know this
girl, years ago, that worked at a drug store. She spent her days asleep, her afternoons
getting high, her evenings selling slim jims to the wastrels that inhabited the city, and
her late, late evenings, uh, getting high again. She was just a casual acquaintance of
mine; she was someone you saw every now and again. Not really a person you'd
consider to be a great "catch." There were probably a few snowmen strewn about
the front lawns of Rochester that were hotter than her. The thing is, she still managed to
instill such passion and emotion into one particular young man that when she dumped him,
the guy got some rope and hung himself on Pinnacle Hill. Of course, the Hill was the place
where all us slick teenagers took our dates so you can imagine the look on the acne-laden
teen that casually happened upon that little spectacle. That night probably didn't end up
going according to plan.
The point is that the guy who hung himself dealt with his depression with a decidedly less
CIS-based approach then Ben Parrish did with Apartment F209.
Apartment F209 reeks of lost dreams and wasted experiences. In it you
play the part of a person attempting to clean out an apartment before getting on with the
rest of life. Its prose tends toward sarcasm and dour expression. Items and objects
that have descriptions are often condescending; poking fun at IF's apparent need for
even the stupidest crap to be unique. The game features a cat that wanders about the
apartment, upset with its own pitiful existence, much like the player with one exception:
the cat can take its frustrations out on the player. The player can only attempt to get
away. To find means of escape.
I must confess to a certain fondness for this game. I discovered it when I was
contemplating a move of my own due to the emptiness of the daily grind. While music and
motion pictures are very good at expressing discontent and rage you are always aware that
often enormous amounts of money has exchanged hands before the media has reached you. It's
refreshing to know that Ms. MacLachlan is having relationship trouble quite similar to
yours. It's not so phresh when the song ends and you come to the realization that she's
doing pretty well with the $15.98 you and a million people just like you recently spent on
her album. Interactive fiction, devoid of overhead, publishers, middlemen and usually any
real retail cost, is often a purer medium for expression. Certainly this is the case in
1999 where anyone can go through an Inform manual and lay the groundwork of their own
game. At no point is hypocrisy involved in playing Apartment F209. At no
point does the player get the understanding that everything is going to work out and be
okay. It is an interactive experience in one day's dreary toil. The tech now exists for
the budding programmer to document his or her life in a way never previously available. As
a journal of sorts, this game hints at the potential text adventures offer. No other type
of computer game can get this personal. Until, of course, EA Sports incorporates the
strangely bizarre and homoerotic ritual of soap-dropping in the next version
of John Madden Football.
Of course, often the mundane can be just that. There are only so many times one can skulk
about somebody's dresser and bed before it becomes mind-numbingly trite. Those games which
do incorporate it (or at least quickly feature it) often have bigger fish to fry. Tapestry,
for instance, really revolves around a player's confrontation with a darker side. The
Frenetic Five Versus Sturm Und Drang may initially involve waking people up and
getting out of a house, however there are always the feature of super-powers there.
Mr. Parrish's known games, to date, have not been about standard puzzle-solving and
non-player character relations, but rather exploring different paths the genre of IF can
take in the next century.
To that end, imagine how extremely satisfying it is to sit with that special someone; that
person you didn't think you'd ever talk to (much less converse with intimately) about
where you've been, what you've been through, what you've done. In doing so there is always
an attempt to convey with words and gestures exactly what your life, so long ago, was
like. While a computer game should never (could never) replace face-to-face
interaction, it could conceivably, one day, augment it. Many of us can say, at one point
in our lives, that things sucked. Apartment F209 gives our author a
chance, should he ever wish to do so, to state that not only that it sucked but that
"this was what it was like. Come see."
7 / 10
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