before it was a transparent metaphor for valve’s clinical approach to game design, portal was an experiment in story-telling. rob swigart wanted to tell a story about communication as humanity’s final frontier, and what better format to explore the subject than in the place where technology is communication: the internet. in swigart’s portal, the player searches databases, finds passwords, chases references on wikipedia-like online encyclopedias, and uncovers a story about two minds reaching out to one another across immeasurable distances (all the while the player is doing the same).
digital is a story about the effect the internet has had on the way we communicate love, and is set, appropriately, in a simulacrum of a late 80s bbs. (it’s equally appropriate that a story about how we’ve co-opted machines to express emotions should be told as a videogame.) imagine uplink with a purpose, instead of content to be just a system. the system weighs down the story sometimes, and the game occasionally suffers from adventure-game pacing (events do not move forward until you’ve seen what the game expects you to have seen), but this story could not be told as effectively in another format.