|I couldn't find the SkiFree program.|
First off: I really like Her Story and think it's a great example of how games can be used to tell stories in unique ways. Jorge and I are going to talk about it in an upcoming podcast. It's well worth your time!
The PopMatters column is an expansion on my major qualm with Her Story: it's setting is almost too good for its own good. The 1990s era sights and sounds are extremely evocative and do a great job of building out the game's world. Even though you're only staring at a computer screen, it feels like sitting at a real data terminal, complete with overly-clacky keyboard and soul-crushing fluorescent lights.
The problem is the computer database doesn't really behave like one. You have to randomly search for words and you can't see all the results. There's no way to list out all the entries or sort them. Actual research presents the opposite problem: there is often too much data and you have to whittle it down into an ordered stack (with the help of computers). Instead of just getting five results, you get 5000.
|Searching for "cat" in the NY Times database.|
Ontological issues aside, Her Story is still a captivating game. You just have to resign yourself to the fact that you'll be interacting with something that looks, but does not function like, a real computer. What does this say about the nature of the object? Perhaps that's an even trickier mystery than the murder case in Her Story.