I’m not a big fan of “social media.” I don’t have a Facebook account, and I only have a Twitter account because I needed one to enter a contest. That contest was connected with Legends of Zork, a now-defunct browser-based online game; it wasn’t a bad game, mind, but some time before I left its Great Underground Empire for good, I got introduced to a much, much better browser-based game: Failbetter Games’ Echo Bazaar.
Echo Bazaar is best described as a kind of online gamebook – a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure with RPG elements. Yes, that would technically make it yet another click-based grindfest like the aforementioned Legends of Zork (or SpyBattle 2165, which I mentioned previously), except that Echo Bazaar has a story to tell, one snippet of narrative (or “storylet”) at a time. The writing quality alone makes Echo Bazaar well worth spelunking, even if only for a short time. Thus far I’ve plumbed nearly all the content I can access with a free account, and I’m dangerously close to actually spending money on this game.
Let me put this in perspective: I never spend money on free online games.
Of course, you absolutely have to have an account on Twitter (lucky me!) or Facebook in order to sign up. Fortunately, you can create a Twitter account with just a username, email, and password: you don’t really have to provide your real name, as you’ll see on my feed. That’s right: I’ve gone and
sold my soul to the Devil added a Twitter feed to my home page. What has the world come to?
I’ll tell you what: Failbetter Games has another game out, The Night Circus. On paper, it’s an advertising tie-in for a novel of the same name. In practice, it’s Echo Bazaar Lite: same quality of writing, less of it overall, but just as compelling and 100% free. Problem is, you can’t access all the content without increasing your Rêveur Rank, and you can’t increase your Rêveur Rank without
sacrificing outsiders to the almighty Failwhale shilling the game through your Tweets getting Twitter friends and newcomers to join through your Diary, where you can share whatever snippets catch your eye. Those same snippets get posted to Twitter in your name, each with a link to your Diary, ready to drag unsuspecting visitors into the strange black-and-white-and-red-all-over world of The Night Circus. You know what you must do. Enjoy.
(And for what it’s worth, Echo Bazaar has a similar mechanic, though I don’t think I get any kind of kickback in this case. Feel free to join me in Fallen London through the links to my Journal. You won’t regret it. Seriously.)