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Ralsina.Me — Roberto Alsina's website

Living in Zork

You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded
front door.

There is a small mailbox here.


We live in the gold­en age of tex­t. Peo­ple write more than ev­er be­fore. Peo­ple read more than ev­er be­fore. On­ly a few short years ago, the pre­ferred mech­a­nism to con­tact oth­er peo­ple was voice based "phone call­s". How quaint that ap­pears to the mod­ern per­son, that types mes­sages through any of to­day's jun­gle of mesag­ing sys­tem­s.

Sure, we al­so take more pic­tures than ev­er be­fore. And more video than ev­er be­fore. Be­cause we are, in gen­er­al, in an in­for­ma­tion gold­en age. But peo­ple ex­pect­ed that.

Who ex­pect­ed, 20 years ago, that kids would pre­fer to type short mes­sages to each oth­er in­stead of hav­ing long phone call­s? Who ex­pect­ed that peo­ple would want to read the mes­sages they got, in­stead of lis­ten­ing to them? Or watch­ing them?

Which is strange, since for as long as I have a mem­o­ry, I have been read­ing that the younger folks can't read or write as well as the old­est gen­er­a­tions (of which I am now part of). The dread­ed lack of "writ­ten text com­pre­hen­sion", mean­ing kids sim­ply did not un­der­stand what the heck they were read­ing. Sure, they could form the words in their mind­s, but the com­plex as­pects (plot, etc) sim­ply did­n't catch.

But why are those kids who could not read writ­ing and read­ing so much? Is that a para­dox? Or is it just that they didn care about what they were read­ing, and when, lat­er in life, they de­cid­ed to pay at­ten­tion, they did get it?

Or maybe it is that un­der­stand­ing long plots is not what read­ing is about nowa­days. That read­ing is about get­ting many small nuggets of data, and the whole cor­re­la­tion is done in our head­s, in­stead of hav­ing it spelled out in long, com­pre­hen­sive texts.

> open mailbox

Opening the mailbox reveals:
A leaflet.

Maybe the prob­lem with long texts and read­ing com­pre­hen­sion is that they are too spe­cif­ic. Once you ex­plain ev­ery­thing, maybe it's bor­ing, and peo­ple's mind wan­der of­f. Maybe you need to keep things short and open-end­ed. Maybe the read­er wants to fill in the blanks.

> read leaflet

Welcome to Zork (originally Dungeon)!

Dungeon is a game of adventure, danger, and low cunning. In it
you will explore some of the most amazing territory ever seen by
mortal man. Hardened adventurers have run screaming from the
terrors contained within.

So, maybe the right way to write in the 21st cen­tu­ry is short and evoca­tive, in­stead of clever and wordy. Maybe the gam­ing com­po­nent of read­ing needs to be amped up, and the us­er will win imag­i­nary badges when­ev­er he gets some in­sight from what he is read­ing, like one of those what­ev­ervilles that give you mean­ing­less awards for mean­ing­less tasks ac­com­plished with mean­ing­less ef­fort.

> go west

You are in a forest, with trees in all directions around you.

Or maybe it's the oth­er way around. Maybe read­ing (or writ­ing) is be­com­ing split in­to two dif­fer­ent things. Maybe we are de­vel­op­ing a high and a low read­ing. A high read­ing that is what tra­di­tion­al­ly was called read­ing, and a low read­ing that is short and func­tion­al and not all that in­ter­est­ing.

> go west


And maybe this means we will get things like Chi­na Miéville's nov­el­s, full of weird for weird's sake, and fun, and things like twit­ter, snip­pets full of whim­sy and con­nec­tion and wit (hey, I fol­low in­ter­est­ing peo­ple), and blogs full of dis­joint­ed mis­ce­lanea, and 9gag full of things that should not, in all hon­esty, be fun­ny.

> reset

Starting over.

PS: http://www.crazygames.­com/game/­zork

pointtonull / 2012-01-21 03:48:

Es que a los jóvenes de hoy les gusta el modo brief...