[IFCOMP 2016] The Riot – Taylor Johnson

  • /!\ Spoil ahead…
  • English isn’t my mother tongue, any grammatical rectification welcomed in PM

The Riot is an hypertext interactive fiction, written for the 2016 IFCOMP. It lets you embody a «riot control officer» and a few other characters in middle of city chaos…

The Riot is plainly written, but still moving and sharing emotions. The style doesn’t go «too far» nor falls into pathos circles. It just does the job.

Narration brings you in the middle (really, in the middle) of an anti-riot operation downtown in «your city». This all begins with a classical  briefing into the Police Humvee, where the officer explains the plan : jumping right at the heart of the riot.

I guess it’s more a meta-narrative logic (and I mean the format) that driven that in media res situation, but the author made a nice point offering the choice to challenge that stupid plan in the van.

First, I must say I enjoyed playing The Riot, I wanted to browse and finish it, and I wasn’t disappointed when I did. I spent a good time and I like the margins the author gave me to interact with the situations.

Still, here you are, thrown into action, when «one mistake changes everything». Police blunder, to spoil.

I actually don’t find this would be the disruptive element, explaining the turning of events, the latter being more justified by you getting lost, IMO… But that mistake is the question to be treated during the play ; it’s, more precisely, the exposure of the subject to be treated.

«It’s a strange feeling riding a tandem bike alone.»

As you wander into the riot, you finally find some people : a kid, two journalists. But that blunder isn’t really discussed among characters, as you hide your secret. Well, ok, this is more than credible: you wouldn’t expect the main character to reveal what he just did… In a way, we get a sense of the opinion the other characters would have on that. We know our secret and we see the journalists and the kid, ignoring that secret, treating us as a hero. That separation, that ambiguity, reveals the true reflection —or the base for it— concerning that plunder.

So I guess it’s a good way to treat that subject.

Yet I feel some aspects of that theme might have been left out. I’m thinking of the background: I never got any info about why there is that riot? Similarly, as the Police get a good, non-Manichean treatment, why do the rioters are just «ruffians», kids, that don’t deserve any deeper investigation? That would have been nice to interact with one of them. If the questioning about police behavior in riots is nicely put, the treatment of riot/rioters is absolutely modeled on the mass-media coverage of the question…

> [Note still to be determined, but a good one]


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