‘Don’t take it personally, babe, it just ain’t your story’ isn’t just an amazing title, but a story about sexuality, privacy, and our relationships in a post-Facebook world.
The game, which I will shorten to Don’t take it personally, babe, is a short interactive story by Canadian writer Christine Love. The story follows John Rook, a twice-divorced man in a mid-life crisis whose taken up teaching in a private high school.
Sexuality plays a huge role in the story.The hook to the game is the student’s social networking
service, Amie. As a teacher, you’re given full access to the student’s private conversations and posts, and are given a voyeuristic look into the drama of a group of high school students. While it sounds rather tweeny, it’s written in an elegant way that’s gripping even to an older player. The writing can also be pretty funny, and I found myself chuckling often.
The story follows the perspective of a teacher, who is really an outsider to the student’s social circles, in the same way as the player. Rook has a low self-esteem and a knack for sarcasm, and his writing provides context to make the teen drama feel engaging instead of annoying.
You can tell the story was written by an otaku.
The game feels important because of its themes about privacy and relationships in a post-Facebook world. The game is just soon enough in the future that all the teens talk in a realistic, if ‘youthful’ way, and it brings up an incredibly powerful and positive message about the way we communicate and the idea privacy.
If writing like this bothers you, you probably won't like Don't take it personally, babe.There’s not a whole lot of interactivity in the game. A few important choices are left to the player, and while they flesh out Rook in interesting ways, they don’t dramatically alter the story much.
I’ve played through the game twice, once as a teacher trying his best to preserve his professionalism, and once as someone who’d given up and just rolled with being a horrible teacher, and both paths were equally enjoyable. Telling the school bully that she needs to shut the hell up is incredibly satisfying, but the gentler approach leads her to explain why she thinks the world revolves around her, and she makes a good case. Both flesh out the world and your own character equally.
Don’t take it personally, babe, isn’t for everybody. There’s a lot of reading involved, and not a lot of choices. The art style is inconsistent, and if a person using the word ‘lol’ completely unironically bothers you, the writing may not be your cup of tea. But deep down there’s an experience that tells a practical message about the social world we live in, and about the next generation of Internet users. Christine Love shows herself to be a capable, youthful, and thoughtful writer, and I can’t recommend Don’t take it personally, babe, enough.