Text Adventure video games are a thing of the past, and as such, fairly unknown. They are the primitive ancestor of RPG’s and other action-adventure games, but rather than taking bold action with the slash of a sword as is the case in the advanced games of today, the way a player affects the world around him/herself in a text adventure game is through language. The world of text interface consists of sparse descriptions of the player’s environment and his/her obstacles. The player then types in the action he/she wishes to take in relation to these environmental factors. It can seem very limiting at times, especially when one considers the world of Wii gaming where a player can thrash his arms in frustration, the player insured that the Wii-mote will calculate the every point of his anger gyroscopically, leaving nothing in the virtual realm on-screen untouched by his emotion. No such interaction is possible in the world of text interface. The only way a player’s will can become manifest is through incomplete sentences, verb-object commands such as “get key” or “open door,” and no matter how the player might try to make his actions more forceful, say by typing his incomplete sentence in all-caps, there is only a simple message from the CPU in response, telling him what’s beyond the door, whether his key worked.
Metaphors and connections abound in such an environment, especially in dealings with the opposite sex, as the group Text Adventure has found in I Believe In Lassies. When trying to win the girl, send Bowser into the lava pit and save the princess, it is very hard to jump fifteen feet in the air on Planet Earth, where one’s life is happening in reality. Perhaps one would like to do such things, tell the girl that the guy she’s with is a douche, but then one would have to get past the simple command “talk to the girl.” This command may be to complicated for one’s internal parser to understand, and so the player is left typing it over and over again, “talk to girl,” “talk to girl,” “talk to girl,” only receiving “INVALID COMMAND” in response from the CPU. One locks up, all of the players timid intentions remaining ineffective.
These timid little commands are all that seem to be represented in I Believe In Lassies. The subtle guitar strums, sometimes repeating themselves time and time again in attempt to simply start the song, speak softly like the vocals, high falsetto whispers spoken directly into a microphone. There are beeps somewhere sounding in the background, bells ringing lightly. Nothing forceful comes out of the lead guitar, electronic tiny sounds never having the strength to speak over the guitar either. The biggest show of frustration and emotion in midst of all these timid sound is a burst of static in the track, “I Might Be Silly,” the whole album shaking, record rattling, timid intentions trying to break loose from their subtle constraints like a glitch in the interface, shocking, rocking the world of the player’s imperative statements that never do what he wants them to. His words are always left wanting that feeling he’s so sure is there, but can never be expressed in something as simple as “feel sad,” “wrench heart,” “jerk tear.” The wanting in the album is what reaches beyond the command line of notes jumping pitch and tone, always reaching, but never expressed.