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As part of the ENG 488: Hypertext, Graphic Novels & Pulp Fiction class at CCSU, English majors and graduate students are writing responses to some of the work in prior issues of our journal, underscoring the usefulness of electronic literature in the classroom.

This is not a negative criticism, but Every Day the Same Dream is boring. Staggeringly boring. The graphics are almost all done in shades of grey, and the gameplay is painfully slow. And this is exactly what the designer wanted it to be.

Every Day the Same Dream (EDTSD from here on) is not a game about epic quests or battling the forces of evil. Instead, it shows us what our daily lives have become. True, EDTSD uses the cliché of the cubicle worker repeating the same routines endlessly, but even those of us who do not work in an office spend our day through the motions. Unless we are lucky, our jobs don’t require much in the way of creativity or independent thought. We wake up, get dressed, we have minimal interactions with our loved ones and co-workers, we lose ourselves in our careers, and wake up the next morning to do it all again. Just like the protagonist of EDTSD. It is telling that the aforementioned protagonist does not have a name or, indeed, and facial features. He is blank, and he is every one of us.

Anton Chekov is credited with having said, “Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out.” And that’s essentially the point of EDTSD. Very few of us will participate in revolutions that will change the face of our lives. Instead, we have to change the little things that we actually have control over. In the game, we can change the course of the protagonist’s day simply by walking a different way to get to our car in the morning, or by stopping to catch a leaf as it falls to the ground instead of blindly plowing past it to get to work. These are the small things, the miniscule revolutions, that can change our lives.

I feel that the web art format was a perfect medium for this message. We are not merely reading about the protagonist or seeing his plight on a movie screen. EDTSD allows us to become the protagonist, and to relate to his monotony as though it were ours. We control his movements instead of watching them; we can consign him to the same routine every day, or we can break him out of his cycle. EDTSD puts the power in our hands, and hopefully, we retain some of that power once we step away from our computers.

by David Lang

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Published Aug 23, 2011 - 1 Comment so far

1 Comment

  1. The existential image of Every Dream the Same Dream is poignant. Unless I missed something the best change I could make was to have the protagonist go to work in his underwear and get himself fired. I was reminded of the Dilbert cartoon where workers come in every night and reduce the size of the all the cubicles by one inch. The walls begin to close in on Dilbert and his co-workers and it takes them a while to realize it. Recently I moved from an office into a cubicle. I just try to think of the cubicle as a larger office, i.e. the whole floor. The game is simply—yet effectively—the stated condition in which we have found ourselves. And, I agree that we have to find ways each day to infuse variety.

    Comment by Grace Curtis — August 24, 2011 @ 9:15 am

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