“The rules of the game are simple. Got it?”

In 2011, Emily Boegheim entered her game entitled It to the 2011 Annual Interactive Fiction Competition, in which she won 16th place. What I enjoyed most about It was its multiple endings; depending on your actions, questions, or behaviors, different endings occur. I found 10 different endings, though I am sure that there are many more. This caused the game to have great replayability.

The plot is very simple and exposes itself to you as soon as you start the game: The screen, in the voice of your friend Emma, tells you that you are going to be playing a game of Hide and Seek in her yard for her birthday party. She prompts you to close your eyes, and if you type “close eyes” into the parser she then tells you to start counting and warns you not to peek. If you count, the screen loads to show the cover art and the game begins!

The hints that Emily Boegheim wrote to guide the reader into behaving in unconventional ways.

My first playthrough ended with me getting very frustrated and so it seemed only fitting that my first ending was -You have given up-, accomplished by going back inside the house which Emma decreed as out of bounds. I navigated all around the map, interacted with every object in all the different ways I could think of, but couldn’t think what else to do on my second playthrough to see what other endings there were. I then remembered to ask the game for hints. Doing that gave me a nice message from the author and while she didn’t give any explicit hints, she revealed enough for me to have some ideas on what to do next.

I had completely ignored the two NPC girls that were in the scene with me the first time I played the game, so I focused largly on the red-haired girl. I learned her name and that she didn’t particularly like the game we were playing, so I lured her away to build a sand castle with me. Emma, our host, didn’t appreciate our desertion but at the end of the day  -[I] made a new friend-, which is definitely my favorite of the endings I found.

Some of the endings I found, including one that ended the game before it even started.

The funniest ending is when I hide and Emma came and found me, mocking me for misunderstanding the game we were playing. I got into a physical fight with Yvonne who tattled on me, and even got left out at one point, not being able to take part at all.  After that happened, I was slightly upset and defiant, so when I restarted the game and Emma the meanie instructed me to start, I refused.  I found it interesting that because we had not yet gotten to the actual gameplay yet, this ending was spoken in Emma’s voice instead of in third-person like the other endings were.

The game is very short to play, depending on what kind of ending you are going for. It’s possible end the game in one turn (by going back inside) or you can wander around and fully explore everything before triggering an ending. There were some objects or rooms that I interact with but didn’t seem to be of any use, so I want to try and go back to see if I can find a way to do something with the baby bird or the cars. I definitely recommend this game to anybody who likes interactive fiction. It’s very short, the writing is superb, and the world is fully fleshed out. I’d be interested to see what endings you’re able to find!

Edit: I found something to do with the baby bird! After petting it and waiting in the tree for a couple of rounds, -[I] discovered something better do to.- This is now my favorite ending, and I liked that to achieve it I had to patiently wait, quietly reflecting while perched high in a tree, hidden away from life and from the game. I am going to use this tactic in some other ways to see what else I can do.

  4 comments for ““The rules of the game are simple. Got it?”

  1. James Rives
    March 30, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    For a game like this to encourage the player to act outside the box is an interesting concept. It’s deceptively simple and had you given up, it may have been easy to miss a lot of what you’ve shown in your article. In that regard, it’s awesome that you didn’t so kudos to you there. From what you’ve shown here it seems like this game would be really fun to play. I’m curious about how many endings there are separate from the ones you listed. If I give it a playthrough, I’ll make sure to share what endings I find and do my best to get them all. Good post.

  2. March 31, 2015 at 11:28 am

    “It” is a cool game, but for what it’s worth, Emily Boegheim and I are not the same person.

    • edunstan
      March 31, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Wow, I’m really honored and excited that you replied to me! Hi! I love your work and I’m having a bit of an internet fan-girling experience.

      I’m so sorry for the mix-up; I found the game “It” listed games created by you (http://ifdb.tads.org/search?searchfor=emily+short&sortby=&pg=2) so I just assumed. That was wrong of me and I should have double-checked. I will go back and fix that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *