Hell Is Other Gamers


Arts & Culture


I am perfectly willing to believe that The Novelist, a video game that follows the quotidian struggles of a writer named Dan Kaplan, is a thought-provoking exercise for anyone who plays and an interesting evolution in the way we think of gaming. I also believe that, for anyone who writes, playing it would be an existential nightmare. Says the game’s creator, Kent Hudson,

There’s no winning or losing … You play through and get a story that my hope—and this sounds so pretentious—but my hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question in nine different ways over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values. And by the end … maybe your guy has written the greatest book ever but his wife left him and his kid is getting in trouble at school at the time. Well, I guess when push comes to shove you’ve decided that career’s more important than family. Or vice versa.

I wanted to test the game out, but just reading this induced a sense of crushing panic about all my bad life choices. (I’m also terrible at games and my Dan Kaplan would obviously be a sad sack who ended up alone in an SRO.) That said, do read the entire, thoughtful Kokatu piece on The Novelist’s development; it’s fascinating stuff. I’ll be in the corner, weeping.