Individual Work

9:05 is a work of interactive fiction (IF)--a text-based story-game that places the reader/player in a story and invites her to navigate through it by using simple action commands. 9:05 departs from the original text-based adventure games (such as Zork and Colossal Cave Adventure) as it is oriented more toward narrative than game, while subverting reader expectations for interactive fictions.

"You," the reader/player, awaken in a bedroom, the phone ringing. "Answering" the phone informs you that you are late for work, and professional disaster is imminent. This opening effectively duplicates the fuzzy confusion that accompanies being awoken to shrill noises, as the room and situation are unfamiliar, and the reader/player must feel her way around to determine exactly what is going on.

From there, the story plays out in a rather ordinary manner--until the end, where it is revealed that all is not as it has seemed, and a replay of the story is necessary for full understanding.

By presenting the reader/player with a set of expected conventions, Cadre is then able to flip the story over on the reader's expectations and initial assumptions about stories, and interactive fictions in particular. Like many interactive fictions, 9:05 seeks to orient the player/reader to the storyworld through a series of mundane actions (entering/exiting rooms, picking up objects, etc.) prior to offering the reader/player greater challenges. Cadre plays on this convention, allowing the reader/player to progress through what appear to be introductory actions while building the expectation that at the end of these actions, an obvious challenge (equivalent to fighting a troll) will emerge.

The use of second-person narrative (a frequent standard in interactive fiction), the telephone call, and the objects in the room all serve to give the reader/player a basic frame of background knowledge in order to proceed with the story. That frame of knowledge, however, as in all stories, is predicated upon the expectation of a reliable narrator. When the reader/player reaches the end of this piece, revealing the results of her choices within the game, and the subtext underlying the game, she will find that her initial assumptions regarding the storyworld were merely that: assumptions. A second reading reveals an alternate path that can only be followed by a reader/player with previous experience of the story.

A short piece, 9:05 is a prime example of the unique capabilities of the form, using text to build a storyworld and narrative while inviting the reader/player to actively direct the story.