Thoughts: Alter Ego, a Life Simulation

I came across Alter Ego by a random Google search to find a game to kill time, and as I write this, it is now 3:00 am.

Alter Ego is a text-based life simulation game. It’s basically an interactive novel. Think of those old Goosebump novels – the ones where you make a choice and it leads to a different outcome. Alter Ego is exactly that except you go through all the stages of life: infancy, childhood, young adulthood, adulthood, etc. It has roots and elements to psychology and the choices you make definitely influence your life later on. The amount of work for this game amazes me and after a little research, I found out this game is actually super old. The original version came out in 1986!

The first time I played, I died in childhood and that surprised (and scared) me. I play this game as myself, and by this I mean that the choices I make during the simulation are the ones I personally would choose. So my sudden death worried me, and with this event, the game pointed to a particular characteristic that caused my death: naivety (context: I was kidnapped and killed).

After every chapter, the game will have a summary of your statistics: your family life, social life, intellectual spheres, etc. The author also gives advice on how to deal with the issues you will face, as well as tips on how you’ve handled negative experiences until now. For the most part, I received positive feedback on characteristics of trustworthiness, social relationships, mental wellness, and vocational skills. However, I also received insights such as my over-dependence on others’ approval and lack of an adventurous spirit. There were some big life events that happened such as the death of a parent that heavily affected me in the game, since my family life stat was very high, as well as the issue of a mid-life crisis, and not being able to have children (no!). Some positive ones were a successful engagement and wedding… with a cautious note about the reality of marriage later on. In many ways, the simulation was successful in engaging my attention as well as my emotions.

I even considered purchasing this game instead of waiting for each chapter to load. The amount of options are so vast, it’s almost impossible to live the same life twice. In the second time I played, I played as a male and that led to many different situations as well.

Critiques towards this game include a lack of openness to topics of homosexuality as well as the alignment to traditional gender roles, which seems to make sense given that this game was first created in the 80’s. Overall, the content of the game is geared towards adults, with sometimes dark or sexual situations arising that may make a player feel uncomfortable, but generally the game is still very conservative. Another critique about the game is that you don’t actually get to go through all the situations in one chapter, but you get to choose which ones you want to do based on the icons (love, social, physical, work, etc.). Critiques aside, I find this game to be fun, definitely a time killer, and it seems to transcend over time, meaning that it was fun in the 80’s and is still fun now.

I am happy to have stumbled upon this game. It’s perfect for someone like me, who enjoys one-player RPG/simulation games that are “boring” (e.g. no high speed car chases, no guns or killing sprees, just mundane everyday life choices). I recommend everybody to give it a try – learn a little bit more about yourself, or the person you could have become.

What kind of events did you experience playing the game?

Sincerely, Loewe

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To Loewe:

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