Over the weekend I finished playing the Mr. Robot mobile game and I discovered something. I love texting fictional characters! Which probably sounds strange if you know nothing about the game but allow me to give you a little background. The entire game is kind of a choose your own adventure/text based game with the characters of Mr. Robot. Mostly Darlene and Elliot, but mostly Darlene. The game spans about four days, in real time, and during those four days the characters from the show text you asking you to do a number of different things that are all types of illegal. Within the game Mom! I wasn’t actually doing illegal things… at least I don’t think I was. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate twist to the game to find out that everything you were doing was actually happening. Sounds like some one should write a story about that or something (*cough cough* Ender’s Game *cough cough*).
The long and the short of it was I really enjoyed interacting with these characters and was actually sad when I ran out of missions. Not sad that I had beaten the game because that’s always an awesome feeling, but sad because there would be no more text exchanges between myself and Darlene or Elliot. Our relationship is restricted only to that fictional universe. And Geeklings I’m here to tell you, that’s not fair.
How do we live in a world where no one has invented a way to hold conversations with fictional characters? I know this sounds like an adults wish to make imaginary friends real but it’s more than that. For starters fictional characters are way different than imaginary friends.They are living, breathing, characters that other people have experienced in either books, comics, movies, or some other medium. Picture there was an app that tapped into a data base full of fictional characters. You could even have different apps for different types of entertainment. There would be one that was books another that was movies one that was television shows or video games, you get the point. You could even take these categories and classify them by genre (i.e. romance, comedy, action, etc.). You would buy this app and then you pick your work of fiction and go through the list of characters… and then start texting.
One of the best things about the Mr. Robot game was how well the game was able to capture the voice of the characters. It really felt like I was holding conversations with these guys because the writers of the game understood the core of the characters. I suspect this will be a problem you will run into with the app, characters not sounding like themselves, but I think there are ways around it. Instead of submitting these characters to a data base, where a computer just churns out generic answers, why not hire actors? People who have devoted their lives to these stories. People who know the importance of having a conversation with a fictional character.
The idea is beyond promising I think. Who among us, sitting on a train by ourselves without a book or something else to occupy our time, wouldn’t download this app and suddenly start a conversation up with Harry Potter or maybe Shrek (I don’t know why I chose Shrek) or Mario (I hope he would open with “it’s a me, Mario”)? Suddenly time is flying as you and your favorite characters are just shooting the shit. There has to be some of you out there who have burning questions for these characters. How else could you get bonus story? Ask them questions about life after their story. The possibilities are endless.
I know in some ways this sounds kind of lonely and maybe a wee bit sad. Like, “can’t make any real friends”, but it’s not that. The fictional characters we meet are the bonus relationships we have in our lives, but once their story is completed so is our interaction with them. Well until the next time we read or watch or whatever their story. Wouldn’t it be fun to just shoot them a text and see what’s going on? Find out what happens after they save the princess? To get more of them beyond the story. Isn’t that what good fiction does any way? It makes you want more of the story and the characters? This would be an interesting way to do that. Could be kind of fun.