Interactive Fiction: Proteus

Proteus is the sixth piece of interactive fiction I’ve played.

Interactive fiction can be thought of as on two dimensions, the extent to which the game focuses on the “player” (who he is, why he is there, and so on) and the extent to which the game focuses on the environment (the emotions it evokes, the thoughts it provokes, and so on).

This allows us to create a simple 2×2 matrix

Not Player Centered Player Centered
Not Environment Centered N/A The Novelist,
Depression Quest
Environment Centered The Stanley Parable, Proteus Dear Esther,
Gone Home

Like The Stanley Parable, Proteus focuses exclusively on the environment. But while The Stanley Parable is cognitive, subverting the expectations of players, Proteus is emotive, building up a perfect child-like world with no rules, no enemies, and no protagonists — only delight.

Most reviewers of Proteus, whether their impressions are positive and negative, play Proteus for less than an hour. Whimsy without people or danger may be a hollow emotion indeed.

I played Proteus in Steam Edition on my Surface Pro.

One thought on “Interactive Fiction: Proteus”

  1. This reply is way after the fact but:

    I love Proteus so much. It’s not even an “interactive story,” since there are no plot or characters to speak of. It’s more like an “interactive musical painting.” And it’s one of the most magical artistic experiences I’ve ever had. Roger Ebert said games can’t be art, and increasingly, I’m starting to agree with him. I think we should start calling “games” like Proteus and Dear Esther “interactive art.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>