You walk into a store. A manager appears from behind a trolley. greeting you with a handful of balloons and showering you with confetti. Over his shoulder you spot a camera crew and an impeccably groomed man in a pressed grey suit clutching a microphone, while four make-up artists circle him with furrowed brows, searching for rogue imperfections. Waving them off impatiently, he strides over to you.
“Congratulations,” he says through a set of perfect teeth, his voice a smooth baritone, “You’re the one millionth customer to enter this store.” You’re hustled quickly to a pair of brown cardboard boxes sitting on a polished metal table. One box is labelled “R100”, while the other is labelled “R500”. They are identical in size and shape, and have no other discerning features aside from price.
At this point, you begin wondering what the hell all the fuss was about, as the manager excitedly explains that you can choose a box of your choice and take it home free of charge. You consider your options for a moment, before reaching out and taking…
If you choose box number 1, click “Read more”. If you choose box number 2, errr, click “Read more” as well.
If you picked Box Number 2, start reading here:
You picked box number 2, obviously, what do they think you are, stupid? After a quick interview with the well-groomed man, you head back home with your frozen pies and 2% milk (gotta stay healthy) and your as-yet-unopened prize.
You chuck your things on the countertop and excitedly open the box. Digging frantically through the sea of Styrofoam peanuts, you’re just beginning to think you’ve been duped when your hands close around cool plastic. You pull it out with a flourish, coming face to face with… Black Ops 2. Your shoulders slump dejectedly. Not only do you already own Black Ops 2, you finished it the day you got it. You tried the multiplayer once or twice, but it was mostly disturbed children who claimed to have intimate relationships with most of your family members. As you throw the game back in the box and start pre-heating the oven, you can’t help but wonder what was in box number 1…
Go to page 67.
If you picked Box Number 1, start reading here:
Nah, these guys are up to something. The obvious choice is to take box number 2; but you’re smarter than that. Sure, the more expensive thing is going to be better, but who says these are actually the prices of the contents? They could just be labels to throw you off.
You muster the smuggest grin you can manage, turn to the manager and say, “I’ll take box number 1, please”. The look of surprise on his face is obvious. Ha, nailed it. After a couple of words with the well-groomed man, you finish up your shopping (fresh fruit and mineral water) and head back home.
As you walk in the door you put your stuff down before carefully opening the package to find a boxful of Styrofoam peanuts. You dig around in the box for a couple of minutes, but don’t feel anything. What the hell? Feeling frustrated you carefully empty the contents onto the floor, hoping you’ve missed something. Peeking out from the side of the synthetic mountain is a slip of paper. You bring it up to eye level, curious:
Steam Redemption Code: 345L1-781I9-888M5-B3471-5111O
You log into Steam excitedly and plug in the code. A game you’ve never heard of before is added to your account: LIMBO.
Go to page 74.
It’s been six months since the box incident that ruined your life. It’s been 6 weeks since you left the house. You’re sitting on the kitchen floor eating a box of dry cereal. You glance up at your fridge magnets and begin to count them. 25. A multiple of 5. You move into the lounge where it’s safer.
There’s a loud bang on the door. An insistent knock. The sound of rapidly retreating footsteps. You move cautiously to the entrance hall and look through the keyhole. Nothing.
With your heart pounding, you open the door, glancing up and down the street. No one is in sight. That’s when you see it. Sitting on the doormat is a plain cardboard box, with a price tag of R100. You crumple to the floor, crying uncontrollably.
Over the next few days, you can’t shake the thought of box number 1. You can’t help but feel like you were tricked somehow, that you missed out on something great. As the weeks go by you find it difficult to focus on your work; friends tell you you seem weird, distant. After a while, they stop calling. You need to take your mind off things.
You want to buy a game, but all of the new ones cost R500. You can’t shake this crazy feeling that the number is cursed or something. But you really need some distraction right now…
If you go to the store and look for a new game, go to page 112. If you decide to stay home and buy a R100 game from Steam, go to page 137.
This must be one of those indie games people talk about – you’ve never really been into that whole scene. You decide to give the game a go anyway, wondering to yourself as it loads if maybe you should have picked the R500 box.
The game is like nothing you’ve ever played before. It’s all black and white and creepy-looking, and you spend the first five minutes not really knowing what the hell is going on. Quickly you realise it’s a puzzle-based platformer, piquing your interest.
If you choose to keep playing, go to page 137. If you choose to delete the game, go to page 92.
Today is the release of SimCity, a game you’ve been looking forward to. You try to ignore the R500 price tag and avoid eye contact with the cashier. You swipe your debit card, flick your hood over your head and hurry home to immerse yourself in another world.
SimCity Server Busy.
Something isn’t right here. This can’t be happening. The whisper of doubt skulking through the back of your mind begins to yell. You tell yourself you’re being ridiculous (there’s no such thing as a cursed number) but you’re finding it hard to (should have taken box number 1) be convincing. You glance over at the hateful cardboard box still sitting on the countertop, and begin to weep.
Go to page 92.
It’s been six months since the box incident. It’s been six weeks since you’ve left the house (except for compulsory activities such as class and social obligations, that is). Since discovering the enormous amount of indie games you’ve been missing out on, it’s been difficult to tear yourself away.
You hear a sudden bang on the door; someone is really hammering at it. “Coming,” you shout impatiently, before hearing a set of feet retreat quickly. You open the door and glance up and down the street. Nothing. At your feet is a plain cardboard box, with a price tag of R500. You bring it inside, curious.
You open it up and pull out a copy of Black Ops 2. Chuckling, you throw it back in the box and go back to your computer. Maybe that kid across the road will want it.
Expensive doesn’t always mean better. Play an indie game today, or descend into a spiral of depression and madness.