I am proud to say that I am a HUGE fan of Her Interactive‘s Nancy Drew video game series. (I’m slightly less proud to admit that I actually dreamed about the games last night–seriously.) I confess I’ve never read any of the traditional books, though I have read the first half dozen or so of the new graphic novel series, but I am unabashedly addicted to the video game series. The cool mysteries, fun puzzles, great dialogue, and eccentric and creepy (often very creepy!) characters make for outstanding entertainment. (Nancy Drew herself is a fantastic character to play.) Better still, the stories require the player to actually think. It isn’t all hand-eye coordination and quick trigger fingers, or mindless rearranging of cards or gemstones or color-balls (though some of the weaker puzzles do involve mindless rearranging of puzzle pieces). Most of the games require a fair bit of logic in order to beat them, and the best games are downright intellectually challenging.
But even that isn’t the best part of the games. My favorite aspect of the Nancy Drew games are the stories. You remember those Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books my generation grew up with? “The werewolf leaps for your throat…. Do you duck and grab your silver crucifix? Turn to page 23. Do you close your eyes and pray? Turn to page 62.” Those stories were always pretty lame, but they were interactive–they involved the readers in the storytelling process. They were like role-playing games for the very young, and in fact I did wind up playing RPGs in high school, though they were never as solitary and never felt as intimate as the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books. Video games were the next logical step in interactive storytelling, but they often lacked personality or the imaginative engagement that reading provided.
The Nancy Drew games have managed to engage my creative centers in ways I haven’t really felt since those days of ducking werewolves as a kid. When I play those games, I feel like I become Nancy Drew, not merely playing a character but using my own brain to direct a story and drive character development.
Which is why I was so happy today to discover a story writing contest on the Her Interactive blog. The awesome people over at Her Interactive know their work is as much about storytelling as it is about video games, so they’re sponsoring a writing contest, the prize for which is a collector’s boxed set of their most popular games. I’m not going to compete (my wife and I own all the games already, except for #2; I’ve played it, but I don’t own a copy–they need to release that one for digital download already!), but I thought the contest was so cool I had to share it here.
Check out their blog post for yourself, but the short version of the contest is this:
The story should be your own original work, with a max word count of 1,000 words. You also have to incorporate three specific quotes from some of the games (the quotes appear in the blog post). The deadline is December 10.