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Stop Reading to Lose • 2017 rpg finalist

Jesse Coombs •

Reading this is playing this.

Don’t cheat. Go slow.

You are in cryosleep.



In here you don’t age.

You remember leaving something behind.

Tingles in your ear.

You still love them?

Feel your clothes. Your skin.

What itches?

You feel a breeze.

Imagine home.

Supposed to be air-tight.

Feel your arm. Sticky.

A training video about contaminants.

Who screwed up?

A growing headache.

You ever seen a worm?

Why are you in debt?

Try not to think about who you are letting down.

Was the launch terrifying?

Hum of the engines.

Your job is to maintain something...

Thin, piercing pain through your ear, through your head.




You can stop playing, let go.

Remember when you really got hurt.

Clench your teeth, squeeze your eyes shut.

Blurry, unfocused, you’re losing control.

Do something else, this is just a dumb game.

Picture who you did wrong to.

Put yourself in their shoes, asshole.

Obsess about this regret.

Compare the two feelings.

Something crawled in your ear.

Why don’t you feel worse?

You’re selfish.

What’s the point?

It’s gotta be in your head.

It’s gonna get worse. 

You fought off the worm. It dies in your head.

Author Comments

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Judge Comments

This was the most original of the games I read. I love the way it encourages and then complicates the internal consciousness of the person playing. The decision to leave vast stretches of space between its pieces of text is pretty great too: this uses the physical constraints of the 200 Word RPG Challenge (no formatting, no illustrations, all plain text and so on) to inform its theme and the dislocated-but-intense feelings it wants to create in the player.

Perhaps the distances between the pieces of text might be varied to better reflect the shifts between descriptive and transformative pieces of narration: there are a couple of points where it feels like the game should shift gear but doesn’t. Some element of the player’s “real” environment might be included at the game’s beginning to assist in its claustrophobic intensity – but these are quibbles, really. Using a short form to render the simultaneous vastness of inner and outer space realizes a major characteristic of science fiction. - Abstract Machine

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