Her Story, Further Reflections

Her-Story-Screenshot-Desktop-A

I wrote a review already about Her Story, and that is what you should read if you are trying to decide whether to play it.

But lately I’ve run into a strand of criticism of the game to the effect that the central mystery is very trope-driven and highly implausible. (Here are several: Claire Hosking, Jed Pressgrove, Soledad Honrado.)

I read these critiques, I see what they’re getting at, and I think: yeah, but I liked it anyway. Why? Fundamentally I believe stories need to contain some measure of human truth to be worthwhile. Was I just distracted here by how much fun the mechanic was, or did I see a truth in it?

So I want to talk a bit about the actual story that is uncovered here, and about why I personally responded positively to it. This will be very very full of spoilers and also really heavy on the personal reflections, so if you are not interested in those things, bail now.

So let’s get this bit out of the way: yes, the thing is crammed with tropes. It’s a Gothic story, fundamentally, the bones of Radcliffe and Bronte still visible under the wrappings of more modern genres. The duality of persons, the midwife, the poison, the significant pictures that are usually kept covered up; the obsession with mirrors and fairy-tales, doppelgangers and disguises, the forbidden places within the home, the family secrets preserved by servants, the false parentage. No, of course it’s not plausible. This kind of story has never been plausible. It never made sense that Mrs. Rochester could hang out in the attic that whole time without Jane finding out, either.

The Gothic is a way of talking about irrationality, darkness in the soul, and the fact that people aren’t consistently just one thing or another. Though the Gothic is full of women who might, in the words of some of the reviewers I linked above, fall into the “crazy bitches” category, it was also often written by and for women, concerned with domesticity, and touching on family loyalty and family perversion.

“These tropes are really old tropes!!” is obviously not an excuse of any kind: I don’t think the mere presence of recognizable tropes is an automatic artistic demerit, but what is harmful or derivative remains so regardless of length of pedigree. I am really glad that I was finally able to conclude that Her Story wasn’t a multiple-personality story, because I think that particular trope is not only seriously played out but also damaging to our understanding of mental illness.

What I am saying is that a lot of the weirdness of the mirrors, poisonous mushrooms, attic-dwelling children and 1970s midwives became in a sense transparent to me once I recognized the genre I was dealing with.

Instead I was attracted by the character of Eve. There is something really engaging especially in her final interview, the combination of self-knowledge and highly disciplined self-presentation, and the depth of the love-hate-identity relationship she has with Hannah. Her loyalties may be perverse, but they are clear. She is possibly sociopathic, but I did in some way sympathize with her. Here is a woman who has gone through her life willingly being, for instance, punched in the face in order to maintain the illusion she has to maintain. It is bizarre and twisted, and it is also loyalty and self-defense.

Hannah I liked quite a bit less. She seemed more closed and self-deceiving as well as less capable. She was constantly using Eve to make up for her own deficiencies, even long before the murder.

So what truth did I see in all this? I think: the social mutability of self, which is something that everyone inevitably experiences. It has been especially present in my life the past few years. I travel more and have increasingly non-overlapping social circles, so that I’m playing the role of native and foreigner, novice and expert, relatively rich and relatively poor, depending on environmental factors that change sometimes many times a day. And for reasons of career, I’ve also needed to give more thought to actually managing all this, rather than just observing it in a bemused way.

Here’s a thing that happens to me pretty frequently. I’m at a game-related conference. I may be wearing a speaker badge. A young man comes up to me; often he’s a student, sometimes a bit older. He asks me what I’m into, game-wise, and I say that I work in interactive narrative. This is the starting gun. He begins to tell me all about interactive narrative. He has deep theories about interactive narrative, in fact, which are usually grounded in having played a couple episodes of The Walking Dead, or maybe the end of Portal or Bioshock.

Typically the insight he wants to share with me is something like “it’s really hard to have both story and gameplay” or “it ruins the story if you let the player make important decisions” or “twist endings, man, whoa”. There isn’t really a stopping point for me to say anything. Sometimes he may transition from telling me his insights to giving me some advice about how I might “break into” the field, e.g. by working in QA, or maybe teaching myself to program a bit. Gently, he may tell me that I shouldn’t be scared of code and it might really help me out to learn some. If I somehow manage to get a word in and mention that I do code, the fact that my language of choice isn’t C++ inevitably entitles him to blow this information off again.

Sometimes at this point I excuse myself from the conversation and go find someone else to talk to, or the bathroom, or a drink, or just the nearest exit. Just occasionally, the incident gets an alternate ending: someone Student has heard of and respects — his professor, an older dev, a journalist — comes over and says, “HI EMILY! It is great to meet you! I love your work!” Student becomes confused, then silent. Professor and I have a conversation instead.

Right now you may be thinking that I find the latter ending a very satisfying experience. And I suppose at some level I do, but on another it is disorienting as hell, a Hitchcock dolly zoom, a bite from Alice’s eat-me cake. I may be aware that the student is demonstrating a heavily gendered set of assumptions that says more about surrounding culture than it does about either of us, and that he’s probably talking mostly out of insecurity and his own severe need to show that he knows something, because he is worried about whether he can “break in”. I may also take the professor’s praise with a grain of salt, because sometimes people get more expansive in their enthusiasm at three beer PM on the fourth night of a conference.

But it’s really really hard not to feel like there’s some way that I am different. As though I turn into someone else in the moment that I’m recognized, and both the before and the after person are uncomfortable and not me.

And it’s also hard not to wonder, what am I doing wrong here? Women get told a lot – maybe men do too? – that people will treat you the way you let them treat you.

A whole other story. On a packed train a week or two ago a fellow standing-room passenger started describing how I was, inevitably, going to be raped one of these days, how we’d be seeing each other again, I couldn’t protect myself, women like me get destroyed.

Along with “how do I get away from this person and make sure he doesn’t follow me when I get off?” and “is he about to touch me and if so am I going to scream?” I had a lot of thoughts along the lines of “what did I do that made this person think he could say this to me?” Thinking, also, about how if I told this story to people, they would ask me: did I encourage him? make eye contact? smile? Did I show any scrap of treating him as a human being at the beginning of the interaction, because, if so, that right there, that would be my mistake, the thing that opened the door to what followed. And of course I had: finding myself crowded into the train next to this guy, I’d smiled and tried for a sympathetic “yes, doesn’t it suck we don’t have seats, it sure is hot in here” face and didn’t make anything of the fact that he was breathing liquor fumes at me.

I was trying to show respect, trying to demonstrate courtesy even though lots of other people were ignoring him. Maybe that’s exactly why he thought I couldn’t protect myself.

Never mind. Back to Student, who is merely condescending and clueless and not offering any Jack Daniels-scented prophecies of sexual violence. But this too feels like my fault. How to get him to change the terms of the conversation so that we could have a dialogue that might be more interesting and productive for both of us?

I can think of a few ways to attempt to communicate “you have made an error in assessing me”, but most of them are dominance plays. I don’t want to pull a dominance play. If it fails I’m embarrassed, and if it succeeds, they are, and I don’t like either outcome. And what could be grosser or more ridiculous than a DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?? speech? I’m not the president, I’m not entitled to special levels of respect, and there’s no reason they should know who I am. I just want to be allowed to have a conversation in which I’m not treated as a feckless novice about my own life’s work. In practice, when confronted with someone like Student, the fastest way to get that is to walk away and talk to someone else. And I don’t have a lot of confidence that even the Professor ending of this scenario really teaches Student any general lessons, like maybe “the next time you meet a woman and she tells you what she does for a living, allow for the possibility that she started longer ago than yesterday.”

Trying to find ways to moderate this I’ve become increasingly conscious of, if not actually good at, subtler forms of self-positioning. How do I stand, what tone of voice do I use, do I adopt a low status position in the conversation just out of instinctive mirroring. How to deal with being interrupted, which happens a lot more in this world than in my last one. What I eat and drink in front of people. What I wear! Oh my god, so much about what I wear, since I started interacting more seriously with the world of games.

Academia allows a wide range of eccentric takes on professional and business casual attire. I had a poorly fitting suit that I wore to interviews, because grad student stipends don’t buy a lot of custom tailoring, but for other occasions there was very little in my wardrobe that would have been weirder than what other people were wearing. Tweed and brogues? Fine. Jeans and a turtleneck? Fine. Long hippy skirt and a flowing top? Shift dress and a statement necklace? Puffy ski jacket? Totally fine. Somebody probably would’ve complained if you severely violated hygiene norms, but otherwise the parameter space was very broad and there was that one Physics professor who’d been wearing the same purple flannel every day since 1993 and no one seemed to care.

At game industry conferences, the target area is minute. I feel like what I wear has to be: not too sloppy, not too formal, not prudish, not sexy, not cutesy, not uptight; not so business-professional as to seem clueless about gamer culture, but also not carrying game-related brands or slogans because then there’s the whole “fake geek girl” thing to contend with. Neither denying nor emphasizing femininity. Not looking like I want to attract anyone, while still obeying some of the demands of the male gaze because you will get backlash for sure if you genuinely disregard that. Also, ideally, hitting these requirements while looking like I didn’t spend much thought or money on the problem, because caring about clothes is feminine-marked in a negative way and not very gamer-y. Some people have solutions to this other than mine, of course. Very colorful outfits, striped tights and whimsical hats, work for some women, but I’m on the far side of 35 and I would feel foolish dressing like that. I don’t have the body type to pull off androgynous, or the personality for unusual costumes, much though I sometimes appreciate other people’s. Me, I’m just trying to minimize vulnerability to the standard modes of attack. I plan outfits like it’s tower defense. I still lose a lot of levels.

These things I’ve had to think about a lot more in the past few years. It’s not lost on me that I’ve needed to learn a lot of traditionally feminine-coded and traditionally less-valued skills (I pretty much never wore makeup before a couple of years ago) precisely in order to navigate an environment where I was shown less respect as a result of being female.

I don’t think all this is about discovering how to be fake or how to deceive people, but how to be myself in a way that other people will best connect with, and that will draw the least negative feedback. Even if it’s not fair to have to think about these issues, what happens when I don’t think about them gets in the way of doing my job. When Student is talking down to me like I’ve never read a CYOA or opened a terminal window, he’s not having a conversation with me as I am, but with a projected imaginary version of me that I’ve failed to dispel. Maybe it’s not really my fault as such, but we’d both be having a better time if I could change that.

The more authentic self, in other words, is sometimes also the more deliberately enacted and performed self. And this is the point (finally!) where we get back to what I liked about Her Story. Eve is both the more false and the more true member of that pair. She knows what she is doing and why she is doing it. She is more confident, braver, a superior liar. Hannah is less competent at being bad, without being a better person. Eve, one feels, would not have lashed out and killed Simon by accident. She might have killed him on purpose at some point, if she felt she had to, but not by accident.

As exaggerated as the story incidents were, as much as the virginity story squicked me out, as little as we have in common in circumstance or (I hope!) personality, there was still something about the deliberate self-making of Eve that spoke to me.

39 thoughts on “Her Story, Further Reflections

  1. I was utterly fascinated by your discussions of dress, posture, manner, etc. I’m yet to go into a proper game conference, but I go to a lot of writer/reader/fan ones.
    I love a good costume, especially steampunk – which I also write. A corset tends to make any body type look better, so that works for me. Steampunk is such an easy and versatile look to do that I can take it anywhere, and people will often walk up to me saying, “Cool earrings” (or whatever), which is code for, “Hey, I like steampunk too.” And then I’ve found somebody I know I can probably talk to, even if I’m at a conference or event that tends to look askance at the entire fantasy genre (it happens in writing circles, believe me). I’ll often go in knowing I’ll be the only one in a corset, and that some people will think I’m a moron for wearing one. But ultimately it works for me very well – people tend to assume I’m a steampunk expert, in fact, which amuses me.

    Which all just agrees with your minor point above, which is that costuming is a convenient path that tells people, “I’m serious about this.”

    I also consciously adopt an “I’m an enthusiast, not trying to be sexy” style and posture – complete with a deliberately subordinate position towards most people I talk to (generally in the form of being somewhat admiring of their wisdom and/or costume), although I’ll launch into teacher and/or helper mode at the drop of a hat (eg. When someone is too shy to approach someone, I’ll suggest we go talk to them together). Sexy is well beyond me, and I know it. I never liked it anyway. On a really good day, I can turn “massively overweight” into “epic and magnificent”, and I’m proud of that.

    Felicity Banks

    • Hi! And yay “epic and magnificent”! That’s a great way to feel.

      I really like corsets too. I was surprised how comfortable they turned out to be when I tried one. And how much I approved of the sensation of being armored: none of my other clothes have steel ribs in.

      • Yes, armour! Absolutely. In my steampunk world, corsets (and gentlemen’s vests) are all custom-made metal items with four sections laced together. It makes them even less comfortable, but they often catch bullets, so that’s handy.

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  3. Yes, I also have no comment on the game you discussed :) Unfortunately the rest of the post was too interesting.

    I can’t say anything about clothing or presentation. I just noticed my attention zoomed in on the part of your story about the procession of the conversation with the student. I felt like that’s where I could imagine opportunities to change the trajectory, at least from thinking about what I would try to do or have tried to do. Of course some people only talk and don’t listen, and some people can talk through wet concrete, and I haven’t had a speaker badge on, and maybe there’s higher expectation amongst males that you are going to listen more than talk if you are a woman.

    I fixated on, ‘There isn’t really a stopping point for me to say anything.’ Some people are impossible to stop, but I figure some of these students must give you a moment to speak or respond if this situation is recurring. If people I’ve just met are beginning to expound on what I think I know or know I’ve been doing for ages, I try to signal that at first opportunity. I realised in thinking about this that I always do 1 of 2 things. I either say something about the scope of what I’m doing now, which indicates that I know my shizzle and is meant to make that apparent (“I just finished producing this album and I’m about to get it mastered”) or I tell them I’ve been doing the thing for ages (“Yes, I’ve been making computer games for decades, on and off. I finished one a few months ago.”). If they’re listening and interacting, I find they either adjust, or they might even say ,”Oh, you know more about this than me, then”, or I discover they were talking completely out of their depth but just have a lot of the kind of self-confidence where they never act as if they would be concerned that they’re mistaken about something. Some people don’t doubt anything they say, while I tend to feel like everything I say needs to have been qualified at some point.

    I feel like I can get trapped in a social situation listening to people who bore me on a subject I don’t care about that much, out of trying to be obliging and nice, which I do, but I’m rarely trapped in talking to people about a thing I also do or am interested in. Ultimately I’ll just be incapable of not saying what I think if they continue to ignore what I say, or if they keep delivering ideas I disagree with.

    My main strategy is to say something with a bit of detail intended to show what I know at the first decent opportunity in the (one-sided?) conversation. Please accept me punting my musing into your comments.

    • Sure, I hear what you’re saying. A couple of things, I guess:

      I usually have a hard time straight-up talking over people, if the other person is not giving me time to respond. I sometimes manage to deliberately do it anyway if I feel it’s really important (and I’ve been in game dev meetings where I realized that no one was ever going to hear what I had to say unless I was willing to interrupt), but it’s uncomfortable.

      Then: if the other person does leave space? A lot of the time the conversation has started with the information that I do this for a living, and that didn’t trigger any “oh maybe I should ask questions rather than telling” response.

      And sometimes the other person turns out to be committed to the idea of my relative incompetence. I’ve had guys say things like, “oh, you code? but not C, though.” Or variants of this. There always is some additional hurdle between you and respect, if they want that to be the case.

      I once said, as mildly as possible, in response to a lecture about how I needed to be willing to overcome my fear of math and learn some coding skills, that I thought the person might have misread my background. His reply, backed by adjacent buddies, was that I was “getting defensive” and things got more aggressive from there.

      TL;DR: guys’ reaction to the kind of correction you describe is often just as gendered as the initial assumption. I don’t think this is equally true in all parts of society — there were various power plays in the academic humanities too, but there I almost never felt like my gender was an issue in how people were treating me.

      • Sorry if you thought I was ignoring the gender issues. I was just focusing on the practicality and problem of one moment where you say you never get any traction. All you or anyone else has is different words and strategies and actions they could try, so all you can do is keep trying different ones.

  4. re: critiques of the game…

    One of the comments that kept coming up on critiques of Her Story was people who disliked the acting. I’m still puzzling over that one.

    I mean, it doesn’t feel like Law and Order. It feels more like watching The First 48 or Alaska State Troopers or some such. Not a slick movie production, more like … actual interrogation footage? And that’s bad?

    Acting quality is one of those things I feel utterly unqualified to judge because I walk out of a movie and talk with friends and they say “did you notice how horrible such-and-such was” and I smile and nod because I didn’t notice any problems and obviously I’m too unrefined to catch it. But still … there’s this category on TV Tropes about Reality is Unrealistic which is full of people with “fake” accents who are using their own real accent or “fake” acting jobs that are genuine (Good Night and Good Luck had audience feedback crying foul at the hamminess of the actor playing Joseph McCarthy .. except it wasn’t an actor, it was archival footage) and I wonder if maybe everyone is a bad judge and it is just cultural.

    • Yeah, when I first saw clips of Her Story, I thought, “Hm, she seems a bit stilted.” By the end, I realized there was a meaning to those mannerisms and affectations, and what I’d read as bad acting was in fact good acting in the role of a stilted person. But it’s not always easy to get that from a 10-second example.

      • Try watching one of those police-reality shows like Cops sometime and note when they’re talking with a suspect who is lying — the acting feels a lot like that.

        A show like The Wire or Law and Order that people think is realistic tends to have exaggerated drama for effect. But since people are used to it, they equate it with good acting.

        That’s my theory, anyway.

  5. Thanks for writing this. It resonated very strongly with me – particularly the experience of navigating that tiny target how-do-you-dress target space.

    I haven’t played Her Story, and I don’t plan to. The reason why is related to but not precisely the same as the uninventiveness of the “crazy bitch” trope. Mental illness is severely stigmatized in our society, schizophrenia even more so, and DID/MPD even more so. By presenting people with multiple personalities as frightening and dangerous, games such as this reinforce that stigma. (It’s comparable to the trope of the transgender villain, which encourages people to be fearful toward – and hence violent toward – a minority population.)

    But because I don’t plan to play Her Story, I read this post, and I’m very glad I did. I wish it *wasn’t* linked to your thoughts on Her Story – because people won’t read it to avoid spoilers, or because they’re not interested in Her Story. And this is very much worth reading, completely apart from the game’s resonance.

      • Yeah, to be clear, I think there’s clear evidence in the game that it’s not actually a mental illness situation. Whether Barlow intended people to worry about the possibility that it was a mental illness, I don’t know; whether it’s likely to be harmful regardless of his intent, I also don’t know. I get your position and respect it.

        For myself, though, I’m glad I played the game before I knew enough about it to even know that might be a concern.

      • Without trying to guess what the author intended, I’m sure that many players wind up *considering the possibility* that it’s either a mental-illness situation or a deliberate confabulation — at some point in the game. There is evidence against it, but no *single clip* is evidence against it. The ones Emily cited in her original review are pretty solid but not unambiguous — you have to make some assumptions about the behavior of the police, I think. And that’s still leaning on just a few clips, which any given player might miss one of. This against a large majority of clips where you can think “This might be misleading.”

        (Okay, I’ll guess that Barlow intended all of that, really.)

    • Also — I’m glad you found the other aspects of the post useful.

      Thing a guy said to me a few days ago: “So-and-so told me that she likes the mandatory dress code at [institution] because it means she doesn’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about clothing every day. But honestly, how much trouble could that really be?”

      Cue paragraph with topic sentence YOU HAVE NO IDEA.

      • So I must have failed Reading Comprehension 101, because I completely missed the line

        “I am really glad that I was finally able to conclude that Her Story wasn’t a multiple-personality story, because I think that particular trope is not only seriously played out but also damaging to our understanding of mental illness.”

        …in your post. My apologies.

        The spoilers I first received about this game were from someone who a) was completely convinced that it was about a multiple personality, and b) identifies as multiple eirself. Stigmatization of mental illness is really not okay and concerns me deeply – hence, my strong reaction.

        It’s encouraging to me that other people have interpreted Her Story as being twins rather than multiple personalities, but a quick Google search shows that it’s up for debate, and many people beyond my friend have interpreted the situation as mental illness.

        I still question whether this was a responsible way to handle the subject matter. But at this point, I’d better take a look for myself to assess the answer, rather than vicariously playing via other people’s reviews.

      • Yeah, I understand. I have also seen a bunch of speculation about the multiple-personalities reading, but a) I don’t think anything in the text ever explicitly references that possibility and b) there are several things in the game that I consider conclusive evidence that there are two women here, as far as conclusive evidence can exist in this scenario. It’s interesting that, though there’s a scene where Eve wears a lie detector, which you would think would shed some light on the situation, what she actually says is a series of “Yes” and “No” answers replying to unknown questions. So if the detective got anything definite out of this, you the player do not. Absolute certainty is withheld. But based on claims about alibi evidence, the different markings on the two women, and the nature of some of the specific anecdotes, I do think we’re to understand there are two people here.

        Now obviously it’s still possible to evoke that trope by implication without ever naming it in so many words — and possible for evoking it to have a negative effect on some portion of the audience — and I’m not really sure how to address that.

        But yes: my limited experience with people who described themselves as having secondary personalities suggests that the situation bears almost no resemblance to the fictional trope.

  6. Haven’t played the game yet, but I’m brought to comment by your thoughts about game conferences.

    I’ve only been to programming conferences, so mileage may vary. In effect, I’m shovelling my unasked opinion about these things on you, so sorry in advance.
    I think those students are at fault for assuming the world, and in this case you, is exactly as their at-a-glance judgement.
    No one should be condoned that kind of lazy thinking, especially someone in higher education.
    They haven’t done their job in understanding the situation, it’s _their_ fault, and as a result they alienated a capable person.

    Social situations are effort for me, so if I go through the effort of having a social interaction it must have a payback. An intelligent discussion on interesting and innovative ideas is a good payback. A mutual appreciation of each other’s work is a good payback.
    A discussion about ideas which you consider already obsolete is not. Cutting your losses is in order. Depending on whether I consider the person to be redeemable I go through a moderate amount of trouble to be nice. Or not. Just talking over someone saying ‘actually this demonstrates that is wrong’ is perfectly fine, I think.
    It may even instill some doubts in their brain, which they can use to better themselves.
    So, if you can be bothered, talk fearlessly over them, if not, then run. That is my principle.

    About dressing, it disheartens me to see it’s such a big preoccupation with women at conferences, which I also read elsewhere. While I agree to the principle that you should be able to wear whatever you like, in practice there’s not much advantage in reminding them you are a woman, wearing dresses and such or even costumes. It’s only activating the stereotype in their mind, giving them a pre-made judgement of value and ability they can readily apply to you. Any effort you make attempt to conform to an evanescent and elusive ‘holy grail’ of how a woman should present herself is already wasted from the start. It’s taking on someone else’s work, it’s the fellow human’s job to perceive the world realistically, and while most fail it’s not a good reason to do do their work for them.

    I don’t wear any make-up, I never even learned to apply it. People have yet to bully me for it, but if they were then I’d get the change to pummel them into oblivion with choice words about their intellect or lack thereof and I’m ready to discuss forcefully and logically over the value of make-up in society as a whole and crush all the unconsciously held cultural biases they hold dear.

    • I wouldn’t say I’ve ever been bullied for not wearing make-up. At most there was one temp job I had about fifteen years ago where they made it clear that on receptionist jobs I was supposed to be wearing heavy amounts of mascara, but that’s I think the only time anyone has actually said anything to me about it. And in that case it was the temp manager, also a woman, making this statement.

      There’s a whole other barely processed thing there about performative class as well as performative gender: I was temping in offices where those more highly placed than me were allowed to dress much more casually, but as the “public face” of the office and the lowest-ranked person there, I was supposed to be dressing up for service. In particular, it was important (apparently) that I not only wore makeup to conceal flaws/subtly enhance my face, but wore enough makeup that people looking at me would immediately register that I was wearing it. No natural look here. This was at odds with what little I had been taught about cosmetics up to that point, so I felt like I was putting on a creepy clown face in the morning, actively making myself look tacky. I didn’t have the skills at the time to do make-up that would be both obvious and (what I thought of as) classy.

      After I stopped working in that situation, it was quite a while before I came back to the make-up question.

      Now the consideration is more: if I can make my work interactions a little easier by presenting myself more carefully, is that worth it to me? I really doubt that the people I interact with are for the most part consciously registering the fit of my t-shirt or the reflectivity of different portions of my face. But I have noticed that consciously attending to those things seems to produce a small but discernible improvement in the amount of social credit I’m awarded at the start of an interaction. I feel like I’m fighting on various other fronts already, and I can use that.

      In honesty I should also say that there are aspects of this that I’ve enjoyed. I tend to dress up more for, say, going out to dinner with my husband than I used to, and that can be kind of fun.

  7. I came for the thoughts on Her Story — which I equally liked… actually, loved — but… the rest of the post. It was what I needed to read today. Sometimes the perfect post comes to you at the perfect time. I am currently experiencing the student scenario, and it is disheartening and frustrating and upsetting and sometimes I wonder if I am bringing it toward me. But I suspect that the only thing I am doing is having a vagina. The rest is coming out of the culture I’m navigating.

  8. From the director of “game criticism must be objective” now comes “every story must be plausible and realist”. Oh man, people should learn more about the literature classes of Nabokov and how every fiction is just fantasy.

  9. I like a lot the consideration you make about that this story is a gothic story.

    I like quite a lot not only the characters are very fond on fairy tales, but that the tale being told in “Her Story” is full of the tropes.

    So from my view, it is not a minor point, all the contrary, if feels a very well written story because of the layers of Gothic tropes and the use of them. Very well done Sam Barlow.

  10. And about the implausibility of new born stolen from the cradle… well they could go and ask to the Chilean stolen children during Pinochet regime, or the case of robberies here in Spain made by a nun, to give the baby to rich or fascist families. Midwife stealing children is old as history.

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  12. I’ve just read this now, as I was previously still playing through Her Story and didn’t want to spoil it. Great post! I was enjoyed and was edified by both parts.

    I think you’ve given me a better understanding of why my wife found her school uniform a bit of a relief back in her teenage years. :-)

  13. One tactic I have for the times I’ve been in situations similar to the one you describe with Student is: “That’s interesting. Are you familiar with ?” — Then the conversation can flip to my terms, and I can go on for awhile about the things that excite me about . It’s a *bit* of a power play, but still keeps the conversation positive and civil, and doesn’t embarrass anyone outright.

    But, well, it’s not always possible to have the energy for it (I have to be in a rambling-about-something kind of mood), and obviously I wish these situations weren’t so common in the first place.

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  16. This is a late reply, but I bookmarked this for later when I had gotten around to playing Her Story. This post really resonates with me about how I have had to present within the gaming community to be respected as a person. Thank you for writing it and putting it all down into words.

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