I'm nursing a sick baby today, so I had to play a game where I only needed to use the mouse and didn't really have to do anything. A bit limiting, that, but then I remembered Alter Ego...
I remember reading the review of this in ZZAP! 64, absolutely ages ago. It got a Gold Medal and a 98% score, so it had to be amazing, but it was disk-only and I didn't have a disk drive (although I did get one late in the life of the Commodore 64, but never saw this game anywhere). It was with some degree of interest, then, that I discovered a browser version of this a few years ago.
Although I thought it was a really interesting game, I never managed to play it through to the end, and ended up forgetting about it. But as it looked like I'd have a few hours to spare with just one arm, it seemed like now would be the time. I didn't need as long to play the game as I'd expected, but more of that later...
Alter Ego is actually a work of genius. It doesn't really look or feel like a game, and I suppose in many ways it isn't. It pulls from a pool of scenarios from the tapestry of life, and gives you choices as to how to deal with each scenario. How you cope determines how well-rounded a person you are. So if you're nice to everyone in your real life, this game gives you the chance to be a proper arsehole. And if you go around annoying everyone, you could possibly play this and see how it feels to be nice and have everyone love you. Awwwww.
This screen is where you choose a scenario. Each icon represents a different kind of situation.
The game, or simulation as it tends to be called, was written by a psychologist, who drew from interviews he had conducted for scenarios. This lends a genuine feel of authenticity to everthing, but this could be dull if it wasn't for the fact he has a genuinely amusing sense of humour. This means that even the dullest-sounding scenario is, at the very least, interesting.
It definitely connects on an intellectual level, too. With just a couple of sentences, the author can make you feel guilty and have you wishing you'd made another choice, or feeling good about yourself, knowing that you've made a good life decision. It's very clever writing.
Interestingly, you can choose to be male or female, and if you go against your natural grain, so to speak, it will throw up a lot of situations that you could never hope to encountger yourself. And of course, it prolongs the lifespan of the game itself.
How did I get on, then? Well, I was a very well-behaved and healthy little boy to start with. I made friends easily, had an adventurous streak and liked to try new things and was generally lovely. And then, at the age of eight, I was abducted by a man in a car, tortured and killed. Very harsh, I felt, but such is life...
Play Alter Ego here.