Watching Them Watching Us

I’ve been going through the foreign language reviews, looking for cultural differences and so on.  There are a few things that stand out:  The Russians didn’t like _The Duel That Spanned the Ages_, considering it cheesy science-fiction.  Which it is; but it seems they’re not tuned in to how difficult it is to do action in IF.

Both the Russians and the Hispanics (actually there’s only one Hispanic reviewer that I saw) showed a clear preference for highly narrative works, and were dismissive of simulator-based adventure-style games, like Spelunker’s Quest.

But, because English is a second language to them, they have trouble when the author takes the narrative voice too far beyond standard English:  _Broken Legs_ was understood to be good, but they couldn’t relate to the voice.  _The Ascot_ was incomprehensible to the Russians.

So in this set we see people who like storytelling as distinct from writing.  And these guys are *discriminating* when it comes to storytelling:  _Resonance_ was dismissed, and even bashed, by the Russians, who said it was an imitation of Eric’s entry last year and that the plot was hackneyed.

All of which there’s some justice to; but most English reviewers, who did not run into bugs, gave _Resonance_ pretty positive reviews, which probably means most of the value of the game lies in its writing. 

And it’s just kind of funny to watch them watching us.  A comment in the Spanish review thread said:

Yes, curious that all things inexplicably ignored by the Anglo community seem to have websites ending in … sometimes I like to know more about the interpersonal relationships that are out there, I think it would explain many things that have no technical explanation.

If there are any Hispanics out there, I don’t think TADS is being ignored because of interpersonal relationships.  Inform 7 is widely considered the New Best Thing.  I’ve heard that this is partly because it has some good advocates, but I’m skeptical of that myself.

Some people still like TADS (I like TADS), but people who argue in support of it do not write many games…

ps – It’s interesting to watch people bickering through Google Translate, because you get no nuance.  Then at some point you realize the long, pointless back-and-forth is bickering; and then you find a gem like:

“And he continues to Grendel …”

Hahaha, don’t you love people?

Published in: on November 14, 2009 at 11:26 am  Comments (4)  
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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Perhaps there are IF-players who like storytelling as distinct from writing; but it seems that one can’t draw that conclusion from these data.
    A Russian player, who didn’t like _The Ascot_ or _Resonance_, may even prefer good writing to good storytelling—as long as s/he understands the language! Understanding the language well enough simply is a prerequisite for any appreciation of the qualities of writing of any given piece of fiction.
    If your knowledge of the language is not sufficient for the appreciation of the subtleties of writing (in that language), the story as distinct from the writing obviously is what will catch your attention. The correct conclusion to be drawn may be that the story of _The Ascot_ and even _Resonance_ actually is less good than the writing used to tell them.

  2. A Russian player, who didn’t like _The Ascot_ or _Resonance_, may even prefer good writing to good storytelling—as long as s/he understands the language!

    True, but not an important distinction from my point of view here. I’m not interested in what’s going on in people’s heads; I’m interested in what they’re responding to.

  3. “website ending in”

    What, we don’t love IFDB hard enough? Let me try again.

    <3 <3 <3 IFDB!! <3 <3 <3

    "_The Ascot_ was incomprehensible to the Russians."

    Then I must be Russian.

    Also: we can use "to Grendel" as a *verb*?! sweet!

  4. English-speakers use the genus rather than the species. Which is to say, we use the species rather than any one member.

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