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Two people shorten the road

· adventure,Interactivity,Storytelling

You never know how the parts of your life are going to fit together. For example:

College is adventure time. So one summer my boyfriend and I took off on a backpacking trip through Europe. Here I am, loose in the wild.

First of all, let's talk about this picture. WHAT THE HELL is the deal with that backpack? It's bigger than me! How am I standing? Am I about to tip over? Did I just fall backwards all day, every day? And why are my glasses half the size of my face? Am I a hobbit, new to the land of the humans, unable to find things that fit correctly?


ANYWAY, my point is that we had a train pass for continental Europe, but Susan Mary O'Connor here had to see Ireland. The pipes, the pipes were calling. Our train pass didn't work there, and we couldn't afford to buy separate train tickets. So we hitchhiked instead.

And it was easy. So easy.

Ireland is an island full of charmers. Everybody wants to chat up the new people, and hitchhikers definitely qualify as new.

"Chat" is the operative word here. This wasn't Uber. No staring silently out the window, thank you. If the driver was kind enough to give us (and our ridiculous backpacks) room in their vehicle, the least we could do was tell a story or two.

My favorite memories of that trip are the hours spent talking about nothing with total strangers.

That experience shaped the way I think about storytelling in games.

It's easy to think that the avatar is the character driving the story. But it's the player that is driving the action; the avatar is just along for the ride. It's the avatar's job to buy the snacks, man the radio, and tell the jokes, metaphorically speaking.

When avatars WANT SOMETHING and go on and on about it ("I've got to save my village from the fekkin' boll weevils!"), it's like the passenger grabbing the steering wheel. Not cool.

The avatar may, in fact, really want to save his village from the boll weevils -- but he's got to convince the driver that Yes, that's a good idea, a worthy goal, a destination worth reaching. The driver/player has got a mind of his own - can't fight it, just have to work with it. If your story is good enough, you'll convince the driver to take you 50 miles out of his way, and you'll convince the player to keep playing along.

Today's blog title is lifted from a list of Irish sayings. Here's what it means:

Two people shorten the road. "Company makes the journey fly, as evidenced by one anecdote from Celtic folklore. In it, a father asks his son to "shorten their journey" to see the king and refuses to continue on foot when the son doesn't know how. Frustrated, the son asks his wife what to do. "Everyone knows that storytelling is the way to shorten a road," she says. They set out the next morning, and the son weaves a tale the whole way to White Strand."

Oh Ireland.

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