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The short answer IMO is no.
Last week, I was explaining why I found a particular game—Oxygen Not Included—so engaging. There were two main reasons. One, was that the challenges got harder as it progressed. And, two, I was the protagonist.
In both story and gaming, the protagonists confronted challenges and either succeeded or failed.
With each encounter, they would grow and see themselves differently.
I asked myself why time slipped away unnoticed when playing Oxygen Not Included?
Engagement on a grand scale.
I was so focused on my next task. Really, really focused that I thought of nothing else. This included all my personal problems.
If I didn’t know what to do in the game, I’d Google it. Once I succeeded, I’d look at what I accomplished and look for the consequences. If they were beyond repair, I’d start again.
It’s probably cheating. Don’t care.
Here’s the thing: I may restart the world—they all have numbers—so I could start in the exact same spot.
Yet no two games are the same. When I played (enter number of tries here), my slightly different decisions cascaded into a brand new, never been here before, scenario.
How this relates to Stories?
They—don’t ask me who—say all stories have been told already. Yet writers keep writing and readers keep reading.
So what’s the deal?
Now that I’ve played this game, I truly believe if I plotted the same general scenario once and wrote it out ten times, I would have ten completely different stories.
All readers have their own expectations. Some love specific plotlines: the friend to boyfriend trope, enemy to lover trope, retellings of fairy-tales, detective solves a murder and there are a million more.
As you can see I’m still wondering about engagement.
I think I’m getting closer.
Why did I start to play ONI? Because I lost interest in the game I was playing. I finished it and that was that.
But Oxygen Not Included is different.
My brain has been firing really, really well since. I feel great. No blues. No looking within and judging myself. I feel like I did before my depression hit. (But who knows if I’m remembering my past correctly. It has been over twenty years since it knocked my socks off.)
My emotional balance has lasted so long I’m wondering if I shed that black hole I called home.
Apparently engagement is not only—uhmm—engaging, it’s healing.
Today I smile. I know this wasn’t much of teaching post, but it is what it is. I hope you found something useful. 🙂
Have another opinion? Please share, all comments are welcome here.