Jim Monroe’s "Everybody Dies" is a piece of interactive fiction about a simple kid who works at a grocery store. He tells the story of his childhood by walking through his hometown and triggering memories from his past. The writing is very descriptive and uses excellent images. Once the reader gets familiar with giving spatial commands to move through the town, it is easy to get lost in the narrative of the story. "Everybody Dies" is a combination of a game and a story that represents the angst of teenage rebellion. The use of crude language and humor directly correlates with slang used by modern-day youth and makes the story that much more imaginable.
To open the game you must click the square that says Everybody Dies on http://collection.eliterature.org/2/. After clicking the square a message pops up asking you to ‘save’ or ‘run.’ Click run. Then another message will pop up asking you to extract the file. Once you extract the file you must then run the application. Once you do that, the game will appear. The only tools you need to play this game are a computer and yourself.
The technology used in this interactive story is fairly simple and easy to understand. To play, the reader gives a command in the form of a verb, and the character responds, by giving some back story about himself and his surroundings. For example, typing the word “look” will automatically give you details of your surroundings. Typing “help” will pull up a list of hints to further the experience. The only illustration in the game is the cover artwork, by Michael Cho. It is a drawing of a boy seemingly in his twenties, smoking a cigarette while looking over a bridge while it is snowing. Even though this is the only image given, it makes it easier for your mind to create its own mental illustrations.
The main character is an average young adult who seems to have a rebellious attitude. For example, at one point he says the following: “The water level’s too high I can barely see the shopping cart. Actually, is it even there anymore? Did the Indian kid get that one too? Oh, wait, there it is. Thank fuck, Lisa’ll have me cleaning toilets all month if I come back empty handed.” This quote exemplifies the rugged behavior of the main character, and is a representation of his angst towards social conformity.
The style of this interactive narrative recalls Goosebumps’ Choose Your Own Adventure books, where after reading a page you are given a decision to make, ultimately altering the ending of the story. No matter what choices you make, everybody dies in the end. "Everybody Dies" correlates greatly with this style of storytelling. "Everybody Dies" is a game that allows the reader to navigate through small-town America in an interesting way. The series of verbal commands that guide the narrative of the story are an important aspect to the lucidness of the game. "Everybody Dies" is not only a fun fictional game, but a tribute to teenage rebellion.
Sean Goff was a student of Dr. Lisa Swanstrom for a course in Literary Theory taught at Florida Atlantic University in the Spring term of 2014.