Welcome to the forty-first installment of Queer Your Tech with Fun, Autostraddle’s nerdy new tech column. Not everything we cover will be queer per se, but it will be about customizing this awesome technology you’ve got. Having it our way, expressing our appy selves just like we do with our identities. Here we can talk about anything from app recommendations to choosing a wireless printer to web sites you have to favorite to any other fun shit we can do with technology.
Header by Rory Midhani
During the Perseids meteor shower, my nerdy friend mentioned she played a game every morning. Except it was totally unlike any other game she’d every played. You see, this nerdy game was partly a game of probability, kinda like a D&D, but also… a piece of fiction? And played through a browser?
Fallen London! is a text based game that centers around a protagonist (you) who winds up in Neath, which is basically London except one mile under the earth’s surface, in a world where death is semi-permanent, devils are accessible and corpses sometimes have tea with you. You start out in jail (and I have not yet figured out why) and you choose your own adventure, so not everyone’s story is the same from there on out. The choices you make shape your qualities and your experience, so choose wisely – there are more words in this game than War and Peace, so you’ve got a ton avenues to explore. This whole world is powered by Failbetter on their software “Story Nexus,” and there are tons more worlds on there (you can even build your own). But Fallen London! has begun to occupy a special place in my heart.
Y’all. I don’t really play computer games, but I am SO ADDICTED to this one. Here’s why.
1. The writing is really compelling.
If you normally like fiction of the sci-fi/fantasy ilk (and I’m assuming that you do, because you’re reading my nerd column), then you’re really going to like the writing here and the world they’ve created. The story lines have so far been zany and quirky. Here’s a little bit of a sampling:
Fallen London’s two colleges, Benthic and Summerset, enjoy a healthy rivalry. They play team sports with each other. They play pranks on each other. On certain days of the year, they play trumpets and French horns at each other.
There’s a zee-captain down at Wolfstack Docks who claims you can render Neath-snow into white glim on any kitchen stove. I have tried it. I have a pan of goo to show for it. Three of my cats tasted the goo when I left it unobserved a moment too long. The one that lives is locked in the cellar now. I do not expect I will ever dare to release it. I have developed a dislike of zee-captains.
2. They have a gender neutral character option.
When you’re first building your character, you have three choices for gender: male, female or neither. Each category comes with its own special set of silhouettes – the avatars that represent your face in the game. I chose female because I liked the top hat on one of the characters.
3. And they let you have some gay, gay relationships.
Right now, I’m having a torrid affair with a struggling artists’ model in the very bohemian “Veilgarden.” I’m also a poet by profession. Also a detective. When the opportunities for relationships or fucking come about about, you can pick who you’d like to bang. The society lady, the male jewel thief, both. Neither.
4. Even though I’m a female character, I can wear men’s clothing.
There’s no real visual representation of this in the game – it’s all text based, after all, so clothing is just something you equip. But I’m not forced to choose in the category of dresses and gowns – if I want a faded morning suit that will increase my persuasiveness by two but lower my dangerous factor by one, so be it. I can has. I identify as female but wear men’s clothing, just like real life.
5. Fortunately and unfortunately, you can only play ten turns at a time.
You are a mile underground, after all – you’re limited by your candle burning down. When your candle is out, so are you and you have to wait ten minutes for it to regenerate, one turn at a time. If you feel like chipping in 5 bucks to the developers, you can have 20 turns at once (two candles!) for the next 30 days. I did that – not because I was super addicted or anything (though I am), but because I thought this game was so inventive and so good and (clearly) so addictive that I wanted the people who made it to get paid because they’re really excellent. I say this as a both fortunately and fortunately – when there’s a story involved, I want to see what happens next and I tend to shotgun the entire thing at once. The 10/20 turn limit keeps me from doing so. It also keeps me from being completely unproductive in favor of a browser game.
The verdict: if you were ever obsessed with the 80’s/90’s choose your own adventure craze, you will love this grownup choose your own adventure game and you should join me in Neath stat.