Response 1 – Ultra-Ego: Agency in Alter Ego (8.1)

Response to “Ultra-Ego: Agency in Alter Ego”

Jessica Schreyer

In Ultra-Ego: Agency in Alter Ego, Gin Jackson takes a deep dive into exploring the intricate online game called Alter Ego. Jackson used the unique interface of Adobe Spark which makes the web text unfold slowly and deliberately, much like the game it examines, which creates an overall positive reading experience. Screenshots included shine a light on the experience of playing the game while simultaneously analyzing the game itself.

Alter Ego is a game that allows a user to explore a variety of choices starting at birth to see how they impact their alter ego’s life path. Jackson explains that Alter Ego allows the user to “see what our lives in a different time could have been.” This perhaps, is a key finding of this research. The game is forever stuck within the time period of the mid-1980s; Jackson notes that acceptable and available life choices seemed different than commonly accepted paths today. The game’s developers explain that they see the game as a piece of electronic literature, so it is maintained as it was originally developed by Peter J. Favaro. This shines a light on the fact that by analyzing and critically thinking about the game’s options and the alter ego’s choices, one can also explore how society has changed over the course of 30 years.

The fact that the developers maintain the game in the past allows the user to explore how their life may have been changed by being lived in a different time, while also how varied choices may change the path as well. Jackson’s analysis of the game allows us all to consider how our own choices may have been altered. While we cannot live in a different era, we can use this game to imagine how our culture and choices change our way.

The author notes that the developers invite readers/players to create their own, more modernized version of Alter Ego. This opens up the ability to consider, critique, and reimagine what life can be now and into the future.

Jackson’s response to Alter Ego compels the reader to want to engage in this experience. While I am not much of a gamer, reading this text inspired me to try out Alter Ego for myself. The personality test at the beginning intrigued me as a way to start the game, and I found that I immediately made connections to the Choose Your Own Adventure books I read as a child in the 80s. Jackson concludes, “Alter Ego doesn’t tell a story like my own, but it does give me the ability to find pieces of myself in it, and that relatability makes all the difference.” I find this to be such an insightful view of what a “time-trapped” game can do. It can show how our own lives might have been different if we have lived at a different time or made different choices along the way. Ultimately, it allows us to see how our choices, or lack of choices, may lead us on an entirely different path.