Gamebook store

Friday, 29 June 2018

Games people are playing


I haven't played it, so don't take this as an endorsement, but indie developer Panic Barn have announced a "post-Brexit Papers Please" called Not Tonight. Apparently they're expecting "a flurry of negative reviews". Well, all publicity is good publicity, so that's a better thing to hope for than the crashing silence Jamie and I got in response to Can You Brexit?

Probably the mistake we made is that we made our political gamebook (there's a very nice custom "character sheet" for it here, incidentally) fairly balanced. The media really aren't interested in something unless it gets them spitting with outrage. You can judge for yourself in this episode of the Brave New Words podcast from Starburst magazine. The presenters start the show with a trigger warning, if that's any guide.

Speaking of trigger warnings, the trailer above opens with footage of Nigel Farage. In my house that can provoke a reaction that scares cats and breaks crockery. But hey, your tolerance levels may be different.

Other interactive things I haven't played include Charlie Higson's stab at a Fighting Fantasy book, The Gates of Death. It's for younger kids than the original '80s FF fandom - or maybe kids are just kiddier these days. Anyway, apparently that means fewer gory/scary encounters and more pop culture references and bottom jokes. Try it on your kids and see what they think. You may first need to convince them it's not a Miss Marple mystery, though, judging by the cover design.

I'm told by Mark Lain, aka Malthus Dire, that his gamebook Destiny's Role is the first of a planned series. There is very little about it on the web, but from the Amazon product page I've gleaned that this book comprises four different adventures in different genres, including a noir-style private dick scenario. (That's dick as in detective, of course, not what it would mean in a Higson book.)

French company Celestory, who seem to be a European answer to Choice of Games, have announced a forthcoming academic book called Interactive Story which will be published in both Europe and the US around Christmas 2018..

And while we're doing a round-up of games and gamebooks, let me put in another plug for Martin Noutch's excellent Steam Highwayman, in part inspired by Keith Roberts' SF classic Pavane. The Highwayman is building up pressure for another outing, so if you're a Fabled Lands player and you're into steampunk, this is for you.




16 comments:

  1. Just yesterday I finished "The Gates of Death". I strongly recommend you trying it. It is a really good gamebook. I didn’t know Charlie Higson earlier work so I read it without any presumptions. It is quite serious, a bit of horror really. Yes, there is one "bottom monster" maybe to not disappoint his fans (?) but the rest is normal fighting fantasy stuff, one of the better even, in my opinion.

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  2. Pavane and Steam Highwayman are also set in Post-Brexit-Brtain aren't they ? 'Joking' aside, one of the things I enjoyed about Pavane was its setting in the environs of beautiful Corfe Castle; when Little England makes me despair, I think of the little Isle of Purbeck, and it makes me smile.

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  3. I meant to ask you about Can You Brexit progress a few posts ago. I assume sales are comparable to publisher interest? Please may I be the first person to label it as a "cult classic"?!

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    1. It's selling like hot cakes in the one bookshop that stocks it, Andy. (Barton's Bookshop in Surrey.) But in all other parts of the country it's definitely in the category of critical rather than commercial hit. Still, that seems to be true of all my most personal work and to be honest I'll take the succes d'estime any day.

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    2. It's also available on Amazon, where I got mine and the copy I gifted to my friend who works on Radio 4. He hasn't said anything about it so I hope it arrived!

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    3. I know the feeling, James. I sent lots of copies to Radio 4, local radio, newspapers, magazines. Tumbleweed. I think they took one look, saw it was a game, and concluded that means it's frivolous and not worthy of attention. Of course, I disagree; a game is one of the best ways to help somebody understand a subject -- but the media in this country are old-fashioned.

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    4. When the millennials start being in charge, you might have more luck. They like board games.

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    5. Gotta hope. Unfortunately the commercial life of the Brexit book isn't going to extend beyond March 2019 in any case, but if I write Can You Fix Britain? as a follow-up maybe I can get some reviews of that.

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    6. ImI sure that there will be plenty of other disasters to provide gamebook material, so the moral is be positive? I guess.

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  4. Journey before Destination, Dave ! Lands of Legend remains one of my favourite travelogues through myth and history : )

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    1. One of my favourites too, that one, John :-)

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  5. Barton’s bookshop is 5 minutes from where I live so I’ll pop along and buy a copy at the weekend.

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    1. Say hi to Peter Snell, who runs it. He and I are on opposite sides of the Brexit debate but we agree on the most important thing: that there should be a debate.

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  6. It's July 4, the day we American celebrate as the original Brexit, so Happy Independence Day.

    And for Dave, Jaime and other Brits, Happy Good Riddance, You Bloody Colonials Day.

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    1. It's not too late to come back to the fold, John. We'd just have to agree on some standardised spelling and what to do with the current POTUS and Prime Minister.

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    2. Figure the biggest sticking point is that there's like 200 million guns among the 330 million of us.

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