De Baron (The Baron) - Victor Gijsbers, 2006 (download it here)
In the gaming world, the Netherlands is best known as a hotbed of hacking and the birthplace of the demoscene. But for its global gaming spotlight, I wanted to highlight another recent trend in indie game design: the resurgence of interactive fiction.
Interactive fiction, or text-based adventure games, were around before games had any graphics. And even when rudimentary computer graphics emerged, text-based games were still able to provide much more complex, varied experiences--everything from Colossal Cave Adventure and Zork in the 1970s to an interactive fiction adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide the Galaxy in 1984 (co-created by the book's author Douglas Adams!).
While our internet-driven culture is infamously ADD and "kids don't read books anymore," we in fact read more than we ever did before. You're reading this, aren't you? Despite all our attention on YouTube videos and Netflix streaming, the bulk of our internet experience is spent reading. So it makes sense that the relatively easy-to-program medium of interactive fiction is seeming a resurgence.
Dutch designer Victor Gijsbers' De Baron is perhaps the most striking example of this. What seems like a standard high-fantasy story of a baron and a little girl turns into a much darker, philosophical and ethical quandary. I don't want to give anything else away. Just go ahead and play it. It's free. Warning: not for kids.
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