The One Paragraph Short Story Contest: Alternative Game Back Stories

Matt Barton's picture

Oh, yes. It's time to whittle those quills, refill those ink pots, and iron that parchment for another round of one-paragraph short stories! The theme for this year's contest is alternative game back stories. Start with a simple arcade game such as Tempest, Q*Bert, Arkanoid, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and so on, and invent a unique back story to explain what's happening on the screen. The goal is to be as creative as possible, radically re-interpreting the graphics and gameplay to invent a completely new way to look at the game. You may safely disregard cabinet art, marquees, manuals, cartoons, and so on; only the on-screen graphics are to be considered.

Thus, if you choose Space Invaders, don't just write a story about an alien invasion. Perhaps what's really happening is a "Fantastic Voyage" situation. Or maybe you were popping bubblewrap one day and it came alive! Now you must pop the monster bubbles before they manage to poop on you. Be as silly, serious, scary, or sarcastic as you like.

Hint: Don't choose games with lots of dialog, text, or back-story present in the game, such as Zork or The Secret of Monkey Island (unless, of course, you find a creative way to alter its meaning--perhaps all that text is a lie!). However, Ultima is fine, since a large part of the back story is contained in external material (manuals, maps, etc. that came with the game). It might be easier if you choose a game with wacky and highly abstract gameplay, such as Dig Dug, Mr. Do, or Zoo Keeper.

The winner will receive a very special prize. We look forward to reading your entries! Just post them as comments below this post. You may enter as many times as you like. The Armchair Arcade editors will select the top five, which will then be voted on by the entire community. The word limit is 300 words within a single paragraph. The deadline for entering the contest is October 24th. The winner will be announced on Armchair Arcade Radio--with a dramatic reading of the story!

NOTE: The Armchair Arcade editors are not eligible for inclusion in the contest, but will still participate.

[Here is a link to a prior one paragraph short story event here at Armchair Arcade for reference]


Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Joined: 12/31/1969
Keith Burgun wrote:

The Gloglord is a very rare character you can meet in the Famicom game "100 World's Story: Tales on a Watery Wilderness." I highly recommend you check it out. He also appears as a bit of an easter egg in "Faxanadu". Apologies about the length, I got carried away. I'll see if I can trim it down.

Cool, so then the title would be World's Story: ... . You should keep the original version you did and just do a one paragraph version.

Keith Burgun
Keith Burgun's picture
Joined: 09/06/2010
The 100 World Story: The Tales on a Watery Wilderness [Entry 08]

The 100 World Story: The Tales on a Watery Wilderness by Keith Burgun

The gloglord called his guard into his throne room one day and said "hey guard" and the guard said "hey king, what's happenin?" the king replied I have ice powers and also let's get some dr. pepper but they ran out of dr pepper but at the end of the story they get some more so it's ok, but anyway for now it was time to make me some SNOWMEN and throw snowballs and gloglord got hit on the chin with a powerful snowball and his crown flew in the air and his crown landed on the guard and now the guard was the new pharoah.

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