Full Length Game:
I am not one of much skill when it comes to video games. In fact, I am rather inept at most things technologic or electronic. So upon first opening “The Philistine Ploy” (Philistine Ploy), I assumed the image on the first screen to be a helicopter. I didn’t question it; little about video games makes sense to me. I’m quite accustomed to stumbling along through video games, during the rare occasions when I have attempted to play them, generally hitting multiple buttons at random and hoping something happens. A good strategy? Probably not (At least, not if I wanted to win!). So the first difference I noticed in the way “The Philistine Ploy” was played was the use of text commands.
“DO YOU WANT PREVIOUS GAME RESTORED?”
The blue screen shouts. As could be expected, I click a few dozen times in rapid-fire-succession all over the screen, trying to make the game start. Nothing happens, so I try pushing enter wish similar results. Then I notice the blinking square at the bottom of the screen. “Maybe it wants my input!” I think to myself. I try typing “y”, thinking myself smart for knowing that “y” was short for “yes”: Obviously technology-savvy programs would use this shortcut, right? It didn’t work. Well, maybe I should try starting a new game. “n” didn’t work. Neither did “no”, nor “yes”. Naturally (because it had worked SO well the first time) I tried clicking all over the screen a few dozen more times, and tried each of the buttons at the bottom. I merely succeeded in making the square blink faster, pause, then resume normal speed. Finally I realized I needed to capitalize the “n” in “no”. Immediately the screen morphed into a digitized landscape, including a path, tree, and square which I soon found out was “parchment”. The words at the bottom announced that I was in Judea.
I don’t want to get into how long it took me to realize that the two-word phrase necessary for commands in this game had to be all capitalized. So I will leave it at that it took me TOO long. Far too long to maintain my dignity.
Anyway, back to the game. After finally picking up the parchment, I “read” it: “DESTROY YOUR ENEMY”. I figured that was a simple enough task, so I set off, choosing a direction at random. I assumed that picking up any objects I found along the way would be useful, and as I investigated different landscapes and structures I attempted to make sense of how they could help. In a storefront I found a key, and thought that it must unlock the gate I stumbled upon in the stable, but I could not. I did, however, figure out that the “cloth” would clean off the “marked jar”.
As I progressed through the game, I discovered how to work around the limited understanding of language the programming had and how to figure out exactly which verb/noun combination it needed in order to move on. However, seemingly at random a Philistine would materialize in front of me, and inevitably I would die. I tried “ATTACK PHILISTINE”, “KILL PHILISTINE”, “DEFEND SELF”, “WEAR SHIELD”, “USE SHIELD”, and other various combinations, all to no avail. The only success at escape I had was to literally run away, but this provided only temporary evasion- shortly the Philistine would appear once more to finish the job.
Curious, I looked up “Philistine”. In addition to a native of Philistia, a Philistine could be someone guided by materialism, and disdainful of intellectual or artistic values (Philistine). I also looked up “Ploy”. Interestingly, the definition I came across described a ploy as a “devised or contrived move”, a “tactic used to frustrate an opponent”, or an “escapade or frolic” (Ploy). I found the contrast here very interesting. Clearly the Philistine in the game was meant to be my enemy, and was a reference to a group of people often discussed in religious or biblical context. The assertion that the Philistine was evil through his repeated murdering of my game-self implies that his materialistic nature is also seen negatively. Certainly I found this frustrating. I do not know if my quest was devised or contrived by the Philistine or his coconspirators, but I felt boxed in, and if the Philistine Ploy was intended to be a frolic, it certainly was not aimed at my amusement.
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