March 12, 2008
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Hypertext Tears

Over in that dreary lowbrow barfight at if:book over whether hypertext is boring, Sebastian Mary proposes that interactive fiction is better because it can make you cry. What hypertext can make you cry?

The question makes me cry.

Alert: this is for insiders. I'm assuming you know the hypertext canon.

Here's my answer:

Victory Garden, obviously.

The teariness of afternoon, a story is actually an interesting question. When do we cry for that son whom we might have seen die this morning? Or for the father? And when might we cry? Perhaps we feel we ought to be sad, but are not in fact very sad, not as sad as, in common decency, we ought to be. And perhaps that's precisely how Peter feels. “I understand how you feel. Nothing is more empty than heat. Seen so starkly the world holds wonders only in the expanses of clover where the bees work."

I also think there's a tearful climax in Falco's A Dream With Demons. And his "Charmin Cleary" will evoke tears of a different kind, especially when the protagonist thumps her English professor with the Complete Works Of William Shakespeare.

And there's that lovely moment in "Conventions" in Samplers where we're sitting on a convent bench, talking with our old schoolfriend from whom we've been separated by years and by war, and we all suddenly understand what's happened to her. Plenty of tears of frustration, too, once the police get involved.

And there's another kind of tears in Cyborg when Diane Greco warns us, "You arent going to like this."

This is a silly game.