Found Floppy

Found Floppy is an interactive fiction piece that takes the reader back to a not so distant past of Windows XP. This recent, but still ancient operating system was one of the last few to come with 3&1/2 floppy ports standard. The reader is presented with nothing more than an open window with the contents of the floppy that as presumably found (given the title).

the aesthitic here is definately something that is rememberalbe but is old  enough to seem quite outdated

the aesthetic here is definitely something that is rememberable but is old enough to seem quite outdated

This choice is interesting because it evokes a sort of feeling of nostalgia and familiarity for younger people that the other “period” Elit pieces don’t seem to be able to. That is to say that I remember Windows XP and floppy disks, while I could not say the same for the Commodore 64 or the larger floppys.

The text of the game is given to the reader in several different notepad files that appear to be slightly corrupted or unreadable by the version of notepad they are being read on, which suggests that these files are older still. The narrative describes around man who is complaining about his neighbor making noise as she is beaten by her boyfriend. The character seems cold and removed, but the narrative soon goes on to discuss abuse in general.

There are photos thrown in as well, that seem for the most part to be pixelated nonsense, but they do add a sense of creepiness and authenticity to the time period of this piece, as they seem like they are of the same quality of photos that would be taken on a webcam from the time.

The real wonder of this piece, though, is through the way it is presented. What I mean by this is that floppys present one of the last mediums, where someone could possibly find one out in a field and then go home and plug it in.  It makes it feel like one is finding a relic from a past age, though it is most likely less than a decade old. There is an argument to be made here with thumb drives or hard drives acting the same way, but there is something about he floppy being loaded on to windows XP that gives it a kind of urgency. An urgency where if someone had found the floppy any later than the era of the XP, most people would not have had the means to read it.

  9 comments for “Found Floppy

  1. mstough
    February 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    While I agree that there is a nostalgic feel from the Windows XP interface and that there is a very creepy feel to the whole thing–the music in the background really adds to it–I’m not sure that there is a whole lot of narrative to this piece. Maybe I missed something when I clicked through all the files? It just seemed to me that the broken notepad files and the obscure images were just there and while they might suggest some bigger issue, I didn’t feel a huge pull into the story or that is was exceptionally immersive and intriguing like a lot of interactive work is. This might just be because I didn’t feel like I was given a whole lot of direction as to what I needed to do with the files other than look at them. Likewise, the lack of narrative pull really prevented me from taking an interest in the story and the topic of abuse, which you said was present in this piece. Ultimately, the XP nostalgia seemed to overwhelm the rest of the experience and narrative for me.

  2. nbemis
    February 16, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    The general creepiness of this piece is pretty disarming, especially when contrasted with the initially-innocuous presentation of the Windows XP screenshot. The fact that the piece is presented in an obsolete OS made me think, more than anything, about how long ago these documents were supposed to have been written, and how long ago the events described in the documents occurred. It sounds like this woman was being beaten savagely night after night after night, and the guy who was recording the events certainly didn’t feel a need to step in. So she very well could have died within a year, a month, a week of his writing the documents. It doesn’t really matter. She is probably dead, and the reader of the found floppy can do nothing to reverse that. In that way, the presentation makes this story incredibly sad.

  3. Robert
    February 16, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    This didn’t feel like a narrative so much as a disconnected sequence of shots, almost like a photo collage. I can get snippets of a portrait, but it feels desperately incomplete. On the other hand, the epistolary nature of this excuses much of it, regardless of the Windows XP and floppy disk “nostalgia” (which is lost on me, I confess). Often in real life we do not have the luxury of a complete portrait.

    • mstough
      February 17, 2014 at 10:13 am

      I agree with everything that you said, and I like the idea that “often in real life we do not have the luxury of a complete portrait.” However, I feel that this might be the setting where the reader can work through the pieces to get a full portrait if the narrative element had been pushed further as is possible with other e-lit we’ve played, especially some of the text adventures.

      • Robert
        February 17, 2014 at 11:03 pm

        Agree with you as well. It’s nice to see literature reflect reality, but that doesn’t make the literature satisfying. I think the ideal is finding just enough that a savvy reader can piece it together, so it feels both complete and incomplete.

  4. Cameron Hodge
    February 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    This is a really interesting concept, though I’m not sure of its meaning. It seems to be a meta-commentary on the medium itself, but those sorts of things often tend to be red herrings.

    I’m still stuck in that 1980’s movie mindset, in which I can’t help but assume any floppy disc I encounter contains some sort of valuable secrets, so this kind of thing is right up my alley. I’m guessing the piece plays off of that sentiment, obfuscating the contents of the fictional disc just enough to make them seem important.

  5. aswords
    February 17, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I agree with your rendering of the narrative. Having spent long hour piecing together information from several slightly corrupted notepad files in order to glean an understanding of a whole, I can definitely see the larger picture (which is damaged and incomplete much like the files that have allowed the reader to construct it). I liked this one because, besides the nostalgia, it felt organic: it felt like someone could really have just sat down and written the files out over a period of time, and it also felt reasonable to think that someone would have picked the floppy up and started perusing its contents. Like Robert mentioned, every floppy disc always feels like it MUST contain some dark secret just waiting to be discovered.

  6. star
    February 17, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    I had to temporarily look away from the computer screen not because the content was gory at points but because the format in which the narrator shared his inner thought was convoluted by noise text. This is clearly a trauma narrative. In the “FFFFDO.txt” file the narrator shares a bit that seems to be the source of his distress and violently provocative other txts. Although the narrator is unreliable it is evident that something torments them psychologically. We as the reader are forced to literally read between the lines to understand the text. I used my cursor to highlight the text in order to reveal the story more clearly. It is only after I hunched over and squinted my eyes and pointed my cursor at what I was trying to understand did I gain insight. On the other hand, the pictures remain a mystery to me. I attempted to zoom in change the lighting to the photos but those capabilities are not available to the reader. Even the titles are useless in our attempt to make sense of what we are reading. “Shitfuc” expresses anger and hoplessness similar to “Helkkk” which resembles the word help. “Aftersh” could be a picture of aftershave, but these are all assumptions. The narrator gives us a picture but doesn’t allow us to wholly understand what it is we are looking at because they are scared and psychologically bruised by the events of their past.

  7. Grace Draper
    February 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    Much like Autumn’s Daughter, this game brings up an important issue to the reader. It really takes advantage of the platform provided, uses nostalgic images such as the floppy, and presents a message to the reader that they might not otherwise be given. I think this is something that creators should think about now that text adventures are so wide spread. These would be a great way to simulate what “could be” or what IS for someone else. It’s a small step, but in the end it can definitely make a difference.

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