Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Too close to home — a scary video game


There’s a computer game called “The Novelist.”

Intrigued? I am. The web site describes it bluntly: “Can a person follow their dreams while remaining connected to those they love? There are no statements here, only questions. The answers are always personal, and ultimately yours to decide.”

I don’t know if I’m up for a game that’s just like real life. The description continues:

The game focuses on Dan Kaplan, a novelist struggling to write the most important book of his career while trying to be the best husband and father he can be. The Kaplans have come to a remote coastal home for the summer, unaware that they’re sharing the house with a mysterious ghostly presence: you. Read the family’s thoughts. Explore their memories. Uncover their desires and intervene in their lives. But stay out of sight; you can’t help the Kaplans if they know there’s a ghost in the house. It’s up to you to decide how Dan’s career and family life will evolve, but choose carefully; there are no easy answers, and every choice has a cost. Dan’s relationships – to his work, his wife, and his son – react and shift in response to your choices. With a different sequence of events in every playthrough, The Novelist gives life to a unique experience each time you play. The decisions you make will define the Kaplans’ lives, but they may also tell you something about yourself.

I’m just not sure. Daily life as a novelist is hard enough without replicating the angst and self-doubt in a game. Why impose that on innocent cyberfolk like the Kaplans? Why can’t they just enjoy their vacation without me trying to work on my own problems with them as my hapless proxies? It doesn’t seem right.

One reviewer says, “The Novelist affected me deeply… I frequently cried.”

Do I really need that in my life now? Is there a danger that I’ll become obsessed with giving the Kaplans the best possible outcome, to the detriment of my own writing? Will my worlds, real and virtual, start to overlap and influence each other? What if I fail? At the game and in my writing? Am I being watched by a poltergeist? If so, why is he such an inept gamer?

I just don’t know…

Guess I’d better buy it and settle this once and for all. It’s only $14.99.


9 comments on “Too close to home — a scary video game

  1. sknicholls
    February 9, 2014

    This is both funny and scary. I know to struggle as an author is a VERY REAL thing. I don’t think I would enjoy it as a game. On another note, maybe it could open some windows to the general public about the dilemmas and pressure authors are subjected to. If it is honest and all encompassing.

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 9, 2014

      If it’s honest, there must be some booze in that house!

      • Dave
        February 9, 2014

        Definitely … preferably some nice Scotch 🙂

  2. Phillip McCollum
    February 9, 2014

    I’ve been intrigued by this game as well. If you pick it up, I’m sure we’ll all be curious to hear your thoughts!

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 9, 2014

      Not sure I can bring myself to pull the trigger on it, Phillip. Looks like a real time-eater. ⏰

      • 1WriteWay
        February 9, 2014

        I was going to say … do any of us really need (another) procrastinating tool right now? 😉

      • Kevin Brennan
        February 9, 2014

        The answer is no. 😉

  3. Dave
    February 9, 2014

    I wouldn’t recommend getting the game unless you’re not like me. Otherwise, you’ll end up buying yourself an enormous time sink for the low, low price of $14.99. On the other hand, if you do feel like adding to your procrastination toolset, please tell us all about it 🙂

    • Kevin Brennan
      February 10, 2014

      Yeah, I’m afraid of the moments that will be lost forever if I surrender to this thing. I have plenty of time-wasting tools on hand already…

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This entry was posted on February 9, 2014 by in Et alia, Writing and tagged , .
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