A Shakespearean dating game published in a peer-reviewed journal takes to heart the bard’s line that “the course of true love has never run smoothly.”
What is happening: We Are Not All Alone Unhappy, the charming side project from Firaxis head of storytelling Cat Manning, asks players to test out the romantic chemistry between characters from various Shakespearean plays.
- The game was released with the new issue of the academic journal Borrowers and lendersaccompanied by an essay by Manning explaining its construction.
- Manning wrote in the essay that “These characters carry their personalities and concerns into these meetings, and the success or failure of a conversation is determined by (my judgment on) what might fill the emotional arc of each character.”
What they say : “Before I was in the games I was an academic who wrote and taught Shakespeare’s plays, so when an academic colleague told me he was going up [a journal issue] about Shakespeare and games and asked if I would like to contribute, I jumped at the chance to connect two of my passions in interactive media,” Manning told Axios.
The aim of the game is to find a number of happy endings for the nine characters by matching them. Have you ever wondered if Juliette would get along well with Ophelia?
- “We already have plenty of dark versions of classic literature, so what might a deliberately happy version look like?” Manning says.
While Manning was doing writing, she said she enlisted Destina Connor and Florencia Minuzzi of Tea-Powered Games to give the project its “teenage diary” feel.
Manning is no stranger to new games. She helped create Blaseball, the very strange and very fascinating browser game that simulates an absurd baseball league.
- “In the way that Blaseball vastly expands the possibilities of baseball (cremations, hauntings, battling an imperious peanut god), I wanted to expand the narrative space of Shakespeare’s plays,” Manning says.
For now she says she’s just happy for bringing We Are Not All Alone Unhappy, which she started working on in 2018, to the world.
- “There were definitely times when I wondered if I shouldn’t have released it myself,” Manning says. “But having it as part of a journal, and having my idiosyncratic cross-field game in conversation with academic peers, has been great.”
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Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to remove an incorrect reference to Manning being involved in Marvel’s Midnight Suns.