IFcomp 2016: Riot

Next on the IFcomp playlist is “Riot”, which is, unsurprisingly, about a riot.

We’re part of a squad sent to deal with a riot in the downtown core. It’s not stated what the riot is about, but it appears it doesn’t really matter: if there’s any question of morality, it’s not about causes and justification. Our name is Parker, and it’s our first time dealing with a riot–we’re not so hardened as our veteran squadmates. The story seems to be about presenting the chaos and fallout and simply describing the journey through it.

It’s interesting. It doesn’t appear to be saying very much. As far as story structures go, there isn’t any recognisable “path to victory”, all of it seeming to converge on one ending. But everytime I look at it, it seems there’s something to find. I think it’s really a story about the interconnectedness of human lives, and the good one does without knowing–uncalculated altruism. The story ends with an act that seems symbolic of Parker’s guilt, and I have no doubt that he himself sees it that way. But I wonder if an alternate reading could be made, of Parker’s connection to the people he’s touched, more a question of responsibility than a question of guilt.

I mentioned before that no cause is given for the riot, and I believe the reason is to avoid giving the player any idea that the riot might be for a just cause. The rioters are seen attacking innocent bystanders in the “dead zone” created by the settling dust and soot; but then we also have, later, recorded images of unwonted police brutality, with Parker’s best friend in the thick of it all. No-one is blameless here … and in the middle of all of this, there’s Parker. It’s much more of a heroic image, once you look at it this way, though of course Parker never does. It leads one to wonder about ordinary policemen in the real world, and from there to everyone else going about their daily lives, just trying to get from point A to point B.

In terms of gameplay, that seems to be about exploring the situation. There’s no deviation to be had from the story, so it’s a rather narrow path from beginning to end, but there are places where we can decide on how to handle different situations. Many of these make little difference to the story as a whole, but are interesting in the immediate present.

So, this looks like it’s a simple little thing, making no demands of the player; but bite into it, and the juice starts running. Eggs over easy, with velvety, liquid yolks. Buttered toast. Black coffee.

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