Ever, Jane: An Austen-Inspired Virtual Game

© 3 Turn Productions

As a female gamer, I am acutely aware of the lack of interest gaming companies show in what interests and attracts me. Certainly I find games that I enjoy, but historically women have not been the target audience nor the participants of most game development. If we were, there would be more female characters with more role playing options and we would have the sensible option to don yoga pants and running shoes in fight mode. Fortunately, there is a new girl in town: 3 Turn Productions.

A new game development company focusing on women and gaming, 3 Turn seeks to produce games that extend the female imagination and play preferences. How the company came about is just as interesting as its founder. Judy Tyrer, mother and English Literature major, had always been a gamer. When she found programming, however, she found her calling. Rather than listen to statistics, she launched herself into a game development career at the age of 50. Being over the age of 30 and a female in the game development world is unique in itself, but Judy committed to her new life and learned everything she could. By six months in, she was pitching games to the company she worked for, gathering experience and information as she went. Eventually, her belief in doing what you love turned into a belief in creating what you love and she decided to embark on a new adventure.

“Games are an extension of our imagination,” Judy explains, but if 99% of games are focused on the male imagination, women are marginalized as an afterthought. Her love of virtual worlds and role playing, combined with her fascination around what inspired women and how women choose to obtain power, led her to form 3 Turn Productions and begin prototyping their first offering: Ever, Jane.

Ever, Jane is a virtual RPG based on the collected works of Jane Austen. A life long fan of Austen’s work, Tyrer knew it was the world she wanted to begin with. The basis of many women’s fantasies, the world of Austen is intriguing and proper, seductive and clever. Players can create their avatars based on the personal and physical traits of beloved characters from the books. The objective is to improve one’s station, solicit invites, and ruin your enemies by getting noticed, either through gossip or actions, but not too noticed. Blatant misbehavior will backfire, and so just as in Austen’s society, propriety is a delicate dance.

A prototype quality version is already out and available to download and play. According to Tyrer, this initial phase is all about forming community. So far, people are loving what is available, with many individuals spending time in the game to help newer players assimilate and build relationships. She tells the story of a player who jumped in and immediately began using inappropriate language and more. Instead of feeding the troll, the other players began questioning, treating him as a foreigner, asking what land he came from and pretending to look up translations. Eventually, he left. That seemed like a very Austen (and hilarious) way to handle the situation to me.

3 Turn Productions has recently launched a Kickstarter to raise development funds. You can access the game from there to try it for yourself, and become a backer for game perks once it is released. I asked Tyrer what characters she has developed herself and she said she had created an Emma-type character to be a liaison to new people in the game. This kind of character would be well acquainted with the village and rich enough to not have to participate in the quest for marriage. She also created a Mr. Collins type character so that she could be awkward and appropriately inappropriate. She is attracted to the weird characters, and I can’t blame her. I myself would jump at the chance to play someone who exemplifies the ridiculous or oblivious like Mr. Collins or Mrs. Jennings. It is, after all, these characters that reveal some of the best traits in our heroes and heroines.

But the most important question, the one I was sure my dear readers would be most interested in hearing, is whether or not we will be able to virtually watch Mr. Darcy emerge from a lake, soaked and deep in thought. It may not be in the books, but has certainly become part of the fantasy. Tyrer laughed and assured me it was possible, but this idea, like much of the Ever, Jane world, relies on getting enough funding to support the beautiful graphics they want to cultivate. If you are a gamer (or not) and a fan of Austen, I encourage you to check it out. I’ll see you in there, with a character based on the naughty Crawfords.

Stride and Prejudice: A Jane Austen Endless Runner

The two modes of Stride and Prejudice

I had you at “a Jane Austen endless runner” didn’t I? I’ll keep going anyway… Can you think of a better way to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice than with an adorable little Lizzy Bennet as she jumps through the sentences of the novel? Me neither.

This Stride and Prejudice app is the latest from my friend Carla Fisher and her crew at No Crusts Interactive, who brought us the Williamspurrrrg app of which I was also quite fond. This endless runner begins as it should, on Chapter 1. Little Elizabeth Bennet, who almost looks as though she’s been embroidered onto the scene, jumps through the entire text of Pride and Prejudice. The text is thoughtfully broken down into full sentences or at least full thoughts, which actually makes it quite a readable.

Ms. Elizabeth Bennet begins her journey.

There are two different modes in the game. In Survival Mode, you have to start over from the beginning each time Ms. Bennet falls into the abyss. If you’re serious about reading the book, though, check out Reading Mode where you can begin where you left off. Quite thoughtfully, there are settings that let you adjust the color of the text and the background to what’s most readable for you, and you can adjust the speed to either making it a more exciting game or a reading experience with more longevity.

I really hope to reach a point in the app where Lizzy jumps into Mr. Darcy’s arms.

Your failure is softened by a wide array of Jane Austen quotes.

Stride and Prejudice is only $0.99 and is available for both iPhone and iPad.

GeekMom received a copy of this app for review purposes.

Discover Jane Austen: A Life Revealed

Jane-Austen-A-Life-RevealedWhat better year than 2011, the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense and Sensibility, her first published novel, to learn a bit about Jane Austen’s life? Maybe you’ve seen a movie or two made from her books, or maybe you’ve even read the books themselves. But Jane Austen’s life had few things in common with the happy endings of her novels.

One way to learn about Jane, the person, is to read Jane Austen: A Life Revealed. It takes you through Jane’s life from birth to death, hitting all the highlights and delving deeper into detail. What we know about Jane is chiefly through her letters to others, others’ letters to her, and what people later wrote about her.

I draw your attention to the back matter first, since it will be helpful as you read through the book. In addition to the usual index and notes, there is a very useful and extensive family tree for both Jane’s mother’s side and her father’s side. The book talks about many relations, some of whom intermarried, so it’s useful to follow along on the family tree.

Back to the front of the book, it starts with a general description of Jane Austen and the world in which she lived. It then talks about her family, who did not live a life of privilege. Her father was a clergyman, and her mother helped run a farm and boarding house. Her father also taught pupils who stayed at the boarding house. Learning and exploration were encouraged by her father. Jane had a small amount of formal education, but since nothing was regulated at that time, she learned more at home on her own. Despite having to work for a living, the Austen family was still considered part of the gentry and observed much of the etiquette of that class. Jane was one of eight children, mostly brothers. As a woman, she had to marry well or be dependent upon her friends and relations to support her, since she wouldn’t inherit any of the family property or meager fortune. Since she never married, that was indeed how she ended up living. And when her father retired and had to relinquish the family home, Jane’s life became more mobile, staying with various family members and friends for the rest of her life.

While the book sheds much light on Jane Austen as a person, she was still a puzzle. Accounts of her are varied and often contradictory. We’re not even sure exactly what she looked like. Her love life was a similar mix of fact and mystery. She never married, but she seemed to get close a few times.

The book discusses her writing at length, giving summaries of all six of her published novels, plus touching on her several incomplete works. Though she didn’t live a life of privilege, she saw enough of all levels of society to write from her own personal knowledge for her stories, so even her details of the nobility are accurate and informed. The book also discusses what was going on in England at the time, to give you context for her life.

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed isn’t a terribly happy book, since it really shows a typical life of someone in her position. Plus, life then was much harder than it is now in many respects, with very little medical care, much infant and maternal mortality, accidents, disease, and illness. But Jane left us with some special literature that is treasured even more today than it was in her time. The adaptations and movies of her six novels keep Jane Austen’s words fresh in our minds and our culture.

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed retails for $18.99. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know the author behind the novels.

Note: I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Enhanced by Zemanta