Adam Cadre’s Photopia won the 1998 IF Comp and XYZZY Award. It is an interactive fiction game that shifts between everyday interactions and dream-like vignettes. To play Photopia, about thirty minutes to an hour should be set aside. Players will engage with the work by typing simple commands as a response to the text on their screens, which allow them to move their character about their environment as well as converse with other fictional characters. Adam Cadre uses color to distinguish between monochromatic real life and colorful imaginative worlds, as well as to serve as a segue to the next sequence. Players act as several different characters, and experience multiple perspectives and settings across a non-linear representation of time. Players will be Wendy, an astronaut, who explores fantasy settings such as the red planet, an undersea castle, and a crystal labyrinth. Cadre switches the color of the text to correspond with these environments. Players will also act as several other “real world” characters of different ages and relations. All of the stories are focused on a central and unplayable character, Alley. The story falls into place at the tragic end of the game, when players will understand the meaning of the story and its sudden shifts in point-of-view. Photopia prioritizes storytelling over puzzles and interactive tasks, as the narrative will unfold in the same way, regardless of the player’s choices and commands. Therefore, while it is considered a game, it is minimally interactive. The revelations of Photopia must be pieced together through fragments, and the storylines begin to tie together cohesively throughout its progression. Photopia touches on the preciousness of life and the significance of a single moment. Its emphasis on fiction over gameplay enhances the story’s themes, and the withholding of information until the final sequences of the game has a powerful emotional impact on players.
Dani Corrigan wrote this entry for Dr. Melinda White's English 693 Digital Literature course at the University of New Hampshire.