Check your nightly news, because there’s a new craze that all the young people are doing. It’s not rainbow parties, or new emojis. No, this is something bigger—and perhaps more detrimental to the fabric of our society here at Boston College. Brought to you by three editors of the best publication on campus—The New England Classic (NEC)—is yet another way to sit in a class and learn nothing. This past Wednesday, DazQuest was finally released.
DazQuest is an interactive text-based video game in which you play as BC football coach Steve Addazio as he tries to find the missing Doug Flutie statue.
The inception for this idea came—like many great ideas—from boredom. Josh Artman, editor-in-chief of the Classic and MCAS ’19, spent last semester studying abroad in Israel. Every weekend, the country would essentially shut down for the Shabbat holiday. When he wasn’t traveling, Artman found that he would just stay in his room for the whole weekend. Artman, when bored at home in the States, plays video games. In Israel, however, video games were so scarce that Artman decided that he would make his own. There was an open-source software called Twine that would provide him the template for it—he just needed a story.
Considering his background on the satire paper, Artman knew his game needed to be sufficiently goofy. There was no choice but Addazio as the subject of this video game/character study.
“We do all these silly articles, [he’s a] fun character to work with—let’s just take that, turn it up to 11, completely go overboard with it, kill the joke,” Artman said. “That’s how we ended up with an 8,000+ [word] interactive fan fiction about the man himself.”
But Artman didn’t do this all on his own. Forming up the rest of the dynamic trio are Luke Layden, “video guy” of the NEC and MCAS ’19, and Peter Zogby, editor of the NEC and MCAS ’21. They got on board when Artman sent out a demo of the game to the other editors. Having collaborators made the project doable over the course of the summer and beginning of the semester, with each working on different sections piecemeal.
All three of them agreed that this project was very different from their previous work for publication. Writing an article for the Classic is a much more streamlined and less permanent process. Typically the writer will come up with the funny idea and share it with the other editors to see if it’s worth writing about. Once it goes up on the website, its presence is never much longer than a week—it’s pushed aside in favor or newer articles being published. Working on DazQuest has been an exercise in long-term writing. The scenes in the game have to be funny, but they also have to tie into what came before or after in the story.
When asked to describe DazQuest, the three of them laughed.
“First of all I would say it’s pretty epic,” Artman said. “This is a choose-your-own adventure—except it’s not.”
The game’s design is fairly linear in story, but the interactivity and small personal choices make it stand out.
“There’s a very retro feel to it—you’re not moving an avatar on the screen,” Zogby said. “It’s text-based.”
Most of the screens in the game are lines of text that players click to progress the story.
“That’s why I think the term interactive fanfiction is the best descriptor for it,” Layden said.
The three of them have taken to calling it a video game for the sake of clarity for the student body, but also as a way to explain what they are doing when asked—especially by their parents. The game has kept them in the library late at night, and it does sound a little more acceptable to call it a video game.
“Mom, you’re never going believe this interactive fanfiction I’m working on,” Zogby said.
“Everytime I talk to my parents on the phone I’m like ‘Oh, I’m a little behind on school work, I’m doing the game,’” Artman said. “And everytime I have to re-explain what it is I’m wasting everyone’s time with.”
The creators have spent a long time studying and watching the subject of their game. They are aware that he is a very real person, which sometimes makes the idea of this game a little weird—and maybe a bit uncomfortable. But that hasn’t stopped them.
“I kinda feel like he’s my son,” Zogby said.
When asked to explain his paternal feelings, Zogby had the following to say:
“We’ve spent so much time with him. We’ve looked into his life and predicted the way he would have interactions, the same way a parent might do with a son. Now I see him out there working, and it just warms my heart. This guy that we put so much work into is still out there just doing his job. If I invested a lot of work into him and he stopped coaching, it’s all for naught.”
But the creation of DazQuest wasn’t all smooth sailing. Creative differences drove huge rifts between these three friends. First among them was a spelling disagreement. Artman and Layden both spell the word for the bushy hair that appears between the upper lip and the nose differently.
“I spell it m-o-u[-stache],” Layden said. “I’m not great at spelling.”
“I just don’t think the ‘o’ should be there,” Artman said. “It’s a huge point of contention.”
DazQuest’s form took a lot of inspiration from other adventure games. Among them is the classic The Secret of Monkey Island and the not-so-classic Don’t Shit Your Pants. The game’s intention is to nearly parody a normal game—satirizing BC culture while riffing on a few video game tropes.
The story of the game drew from a wholly different set of inspirations. Described by the creators as “very noir-inspired,” DazQuest pays a certain twisted homage to the classic films that might actually be detective or noir stories.
“It’s the Citizen Kane of interactive fanfiction about college football coaches,” Layden said.
“It’s definitely the best video game to feature Steve Addazio,” Zogby said. “Especially since its only competition is NCAA Football 14—not up to par.”
While the main purpose of the game is to entertain BC students, there are a few ulterior motives harbored by these three.
Part of the plan is to actually talk to Addazio about it. There’s a part of DazQuest where players can choose to tweet at Addazio a pre-written message that reads “Hello @BCCoachAddazio! I’ve been enjoying your game, have you seen it yet?” along with a link to the game. Layden also has his own plan.
“My plan is to find all the football players on the student directory and then send out a mass email like ‘Hey show this to your coach,’” Layden said. “Either from the New England Classic Gmail or make another Gmail that’s like [email protected].”
There is one last form of redundancy to get Addazio’s attention. Near the section where you can tweet at him, there is another option. It reads “If you are Mr. Addazio, please click here.” This link takes you to another page that serves as a warning, a “TURN BACK NOW” of sorts, making sure that only the real Addazio continues on to read the “personal heartfelt message intended for Steve Addazio and Steve Addazio alone.” That message will, of course, remain confidential for the sake of journalistic integrity, because no one would ever lie about who they are on the internet.
Featured Image by The New England Classic