To mark the publication of Peter Carey’s new novel Amnesia, Penguin Random House Australia has launched an interactive online game styled after the role-playing computer games of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Amnesia moves between the critical dates of 2010, 1943 and 1975 to ask the most vital question of the past seventy years: Has America taken us over? When Melbourne teenager Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia’s prison system, hundreds of asylum seekers walk free. Worse: an American corporation runs prison security, so the malware infects some 5,000 American places of incarceration. Was this American intrusion a mistake, or has Gaby declared cyberwar on the United States?
Visitors to www.angelworm.com.au are greeted by an anonymous host who is guarding information about Gaby Baillieux’s backstory, her alleged crimes and the possibility of an intergovernmental conspiracy against her. The host challenges visitors to prove their trustworthiness in order to gain access to this information. Visitors must undertake a digital Rorschach test, sharing their responses to pieces of digital art that reference key themes from Amnesia. If their answers indicate trustworthiness, the host reveals more of the “truth” behind Gaby’s case.
The www.angelworm.com.au game references the very first computer role-playing games (RPGs), with an intriguing puzzle-solving structure, abstract rules of engagement, and a retro graphic aesthetic. The visual design employs the green-text-on-black-screen interface that was common in the first generation of home computers, and entertaining ASCII animations.
A key inspiration for www.angelworm.com.au is Zork, an actual RPG created in 1977. In Amnesia, Gaby and fellow hacker Frederic develop their friendship around a shared passion for the game. Today, Zork is regarded as a kind of Genesis of the RPG genre, which has gone on to become one of the most popular types of video game.
Kylie Robertson, Head of Creative, Digital & Emerging Products at Penguin Books, said: “Angelworm.com.au extends the Amnesia story world to online audiences and provides an interactive alternative to the traditional extract. It is designed to engage readers with light A.I. and game mechanics in order to build intrigue about characters and plot, and ultimately make them part of the story.”
Amnesia was published by Penguin Books, part of Penguin Random House Australia on 14 October 2014. Print and eBook editions are in stores now.
Online game invites readers to interact with hacking themes of Peter Carey’s Amnesia
Play at www.angelworm.com.au