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Open Sorcery, a text game (Link)

Boundaries are funny things. Often, the only reason they exist is because humans decided this is one thing and this is another.

For instance, the boundary between science fiction and fantasy. Sometimes, it seems obvious. (Star Trek is scifi; The Hobbit is fantasy.) The more you delve into either world, though, the closer you come to that wide fuzzy space between them.

Is Star Wars scifi? or is it fantasy? Is the Mistborn series fantasy or scifi? And what about superheroes? Where do they fall? Batman exists in the same universe as Zatanna, and Steven Strange is in the same universe as Tony Stark.

Another boundary: The line between games and literature. Is a detective novel just literature? or is it a game, where you try to deduce answers and uncover mysteries before the main character? Is an adventure video game solely about fighting, or is it also about the progression of your character and the story that he or she lives?

At the intersection of these four boundaries lives Open Sorcery, a text game that is itself about the boundary between awareness (a soul) and intelligence.

With as few spoilers as possible, you start the game as a ‘spiritual’ firewall, an entity that protects certain areas from spiritual viruses and dangers. As the game blurs the lines between AI and the magician’s familiar, you make choices about how best to protect and preserve your charges–and those choices are the difference between life and death. There is more than one happy ending and more than one sad ending–and once a decision is made, it cannot be changed.

I have long had a fondness for these sorts of text games, and in a world overflowing with options both for stories and games, it can be easy to overlook them–they are not as flashy as their video game counterparts, nor as time-tested as books. But they are worthwhile literature. By forcing the reader to interact with and affect the story, they also force the player to examine why she makes the choices she does. Did I make that decision because it was right? Or because it is what I think the game wants me to do?

Do I make my own decisions because they are right, or because they are what others want me to do?

I hope I have piqued your interest, and you decide to try out other text games for yourself. I also hope you give Open Sorcery a try, and remember that even in the fuzzy boundaries of life, there is still sharp line between right and wrong.