This BBC News article about collaborate immersive fiction games would normally be a cause for joy, considering the great publicity it brings to the genre. However, the article is so wrong that it’s painful. For example:
The first stage of the challenge, which had a $25,000 prize, was supposed to take people a month to solve. Collective Detective cracked it in three days.
Faced with this intellectual powerhouse, Mind-Quest has had to admit defeat and close [its TerraQuest] competition – and refund the registration fees paid by all its players.
“We are definitely having quite an impact on the world of gaming,” Ms Samee [of Collective Detective] says.
Collective Detective is a paid discussion forum for players of immersive fiction games – it’s probably the biggest and most active forum of its type at the moment. But TerraQuest wasn’t shut down because CD solved it quickly – it was shut down because they just didn’t have enough players. A much less exciting, but much more believable reason. And there are further inaccuracies within the article, as listed and discussed at Dan’s weblog.
Now, there isn’t just one person to blame for this; if the BBC reporter had done even the most cursory fact checking, he would have discovered all of the mistruths. So score one for the BBC. However, these mistruths had to come from somewhere… and there are only a few possibilities for the source.
As for CD members getting through TerraQuest quickly, that’s just bad game design. A good game shouldn’t just be about solving puzzles, it should be about reading and being involved in an enthralling story, a story that will keep you occupied and thoughtful for days. There just aren’t any games out there that fulfil that role any more. I wish someone was making them.