Why Kuryokhin: Second Life
At the beginning of the semester we were told that all of us were to have a presentation in front of class. My presentation is coming up this Wednesday and for a long time I did not know which elit piece I wanted to do a presentation on. I made a shortlist in early September or so but soon figured out these were either too short or too complicated. By complicated I mean that some pieces of (important) information were hard to discover which made it hard to interpret. And then I was back at the beginning.
After much consideration, I ended up with Kuryokhin: Second Life (hereafter known as Second Life). A piece of elit where one always has several choices and depending on what you choose your stats will change. For example if you end up in the bar you might lose a health point.
When I first discovered this piece I went through it either two or three times – my mission quickly became all about keeping the guy alive. Long story short he died every time. I found it difficult to see how I was going to keep him from dying as it seemed whatever I did would make his stats worse. Honestly I am still not sure if it is possible to keep him alive.
About Second Life
Second Life is created by Michael Kurtov, a philosopher and writer, with a Ph.D. in Philosophy. This elit is a simulator of the afterlife of a man called Sergey Kuryokhin and is loosely based on his bio. Kuryokhin was an avantgarde composer (which is why you can choose to create music in the elit) and apparently also the legendary leader of cultural life in Leningrad in the 1980s. According to the authors’ statement, this elit «allows you to earn scores in health, knowledge and madness, while giving you opportunities to rethink the paths of the post-Soviet culture and politics». It sound interesting, right?
I am thinking that during my presentation of the piece, keeping him alive will be the goal. I will let the other students decide what we are going to do when, and see how many tries it takes them. Within reasonable limits of course, especially since I am not sure myself whether it is actually possible to save his life. I still look forward to it, though. Going through the piece itself does not necessarily take too much time, but to discover everything can take time – which is yet another reason to have a goal of saving the man’s life (even if it might not be possible) – because to do this we might have to go through the piece several times (at least I had to go through it more than once – or twice for that matter).
After saving the guy (or giving up on it) there is the discussion part.
Topics I find interesting are:
- What do others think of Second Life?
- How can one compare Second Life to for example Quings Quest?
- Can Second Life be considered a game more than Quings Quest (for example due to the stats)?
- Steam has several games in the genre «visual novel», where several of these include choices which influence stats – can these be considered games within for example time management?
- If the visual novels on Steam are games, does that mean Second Life must be a game too?
- Can Second Life be considered a game?
My thoughts on the topics of discussion
When I was younger, flash games existed online where you were a kid trying to gain stats such knowledge and strength. These stats the character would gain in the form of for example private classes that cost money. To gain money you had to work. There were other stats and other things to do as well, but I can not remember much of it anymore. In other words, these are time management games.
Going through my Steam library I find visual novels that can also be considered to be within the genre of time management as you decide what the character should do at what time – which will influence the story and their stats. Except for the lack of visuals, I believe Second Life is very similar to these. You make your own choices which influence the stats which influences the story. Just as in the visual novels that are on Steam.
So in my opinion, Second Life is a time management novel? Or a visual novel lacking visuals? No. Second Life is a work of electronic literature. Though I honestly think it also could be considered a game. I am excited to see what my classmates has to say on the topic, as we agreed in class that Quings Quest in some ways could be seen as a game. As Second Life, at least in my opinion, takes the whole «game or just elit» a step further with the whole stats system, I think it will be an interesting discussion. I think it qualifies as a game just as much as any text-based game, and could fit in the time management category.
According to Second Life’s information page in the third elit collection, it is considered interactive fiction – but also a game! Therefore I think my description when comparing it to visual novels and games is pretty good. To quote something I found within the piece of elit, dated October 10th 2017 (yes, I know that is in the future!): «a metasimulator, both a game and not a game, simulation of the game and game simulation». Sounds like a good description of this elit.
Summary/what I think of Second Life
I like Second Life. It is literature and game blended together to something wonderful. It is nice to see how this combination can be taken further from pieces like Quings Quest (which I also enjoyed) by adding stats – something I think made the work even more interesting. The story itself is also interesting, and as you explores the story you will feel like you are getting to know someone – slowly. I feel like I want to learn more about this composer whom I have never heard of before. The elit even mentions Beethoven, my favorite classical composer of all time – bonus points given!
That is all for now…
Thanks for reading!
‘Till next time, go listen to some Beethoven.