Back to the ‘Hood (Childhood, That Is)

Childhood is a time of worry free adventure and fun. It’s filled with imagination and free play and big dreams. For most of us (myself included), childhood is a thing of long ago. It is buried deep in the past somewhere under all of the jobs and bills and responsibilities that forced us to grow up.

The great thing about being a kid is that there is no lack of creativity. No one has to teach children to use their imaginations – it just flows naturally (another point to prove that everyone has Creative Potential, like I talked about last week). And there’s no limit to the variety of ways to play that kids think up. It’s almost as if the less you know, the more easily you can be inspired.

Kickin’ It Old School

A little while back I gained some inspiration by reliving one aspect of my childhood. More my teenhood…Teenagery? Teendom? Anyway, for a brief moment in time, I traveled back to my adolescence and remembered one of my great loves – video games.

I know that I’m walking a fine just by talking about games. I’m guaranteed to sound like a geek on some level. When I tell you what type of games, I’ll be dating myself – either in youth or old age (depending on who you are). But here it goes anyway (deep breath): my favorite games were the early-mid 90s role playing adventure computer games. Those like King’s Quest, Space Quest and Indiana Jones were right down my alley – puzzle-packed and story-driven. (I liked Return to Zork and Myst as well, but they were more toward the end of my prime game-playing days. And I won’t even mention my very unhealthy short-lived addiction to The Sims. Oops.)

So, I was hanging around some friends who are designing the type of video games they like to play and I was struck with the same bug. With wistful longing I remembered Sir Graham’s quests (which, by the way, are now available via FREE download) and wished I could design a game in that style – but completely different in plot. And then I realized that I could. I had the desire and access to people with all the skills necessary to make it a reality. And so was born: Sub-Normal (working title).


The setting for the story is an alternate reality where technology has led Genetic Engineering (GenEn) to become not only normal, but prolific. The entire planet is filled with a race of super-powered humans, and the few non-GenEn among them are considered handicapped or Sub-Normal. What’s more, the government has proclaimed these sub-standard humans a drain on society and tasked its military with eradicating them.

Gideon and his sister are two Sub-Norms fighting to remain genetically pure, and thanks to their parents’ careful hiding, they’ve lived safely for two decades. But after his sister is captured, Gideon must locate her and infiltrate the system to rescue her, all the while keeping his own true identity a secret. Fortunately, he has a hidden talent.

Gideon’s parents were strongly against GenEn – but not before their eldest son had received his first treatment. When they stopped the treatments and tried to reverse the process, a part of his DNA had been altered, leaving him with a residual side effect: the ability to temporarily absorb and manifest the abilities of anyone he is near. (Though his ability helps him to hide, society doesn’t view him as a true GenEn, since his powers aren’t permanent.)

While most retro point-and-click adventure games focus heavily on gathering inventory items and using them in various ways to solve puzzles and overcome obstacles, in Sub-Normal Gideon will also incorporate the ability of absorbing various powers to achieve his goal. The urban fantasy game will have a comic-book-meets-real-life feel and be much darker than its (cheesy but likeable) mid-90s predecessors.

Get Back to the ‘Hood

So that’s my story. What about yours? If you let your mind wander back to your youth and temporarily forget the stress of adulthood, where does it want to go? Is there a hobby or an interest or a love you keep coming back to? Why not embrace that – see if you can incorporate it into your life for a day? Let me know if you find any nuggets of inspiration.

2 thoughts on “Back to the ‘Hood (Childhood, That Is)

  • Ooooh, I love your game story, Becca! That’s the first time I’ve heard you describe the premise. I’ll out myself as a geek right here and say that I can’t wait to play it. It sounds way fun. 🙂

    As for (re-)living that childhood dream — I’m doing it every day. And I love seeing other people doing it too!

    On a side note, I never played Myst, but I read the books “The Book of Ti’Ana” and “The Book of Atrus.” The writing is pretty bad, but the plots and characters are terrific.

  • Thanks! I’m pretty excited about the whole idea behind the game.

    Are those books entertwined with the Myst game? The names are familiar. I remember thee was a library building on the game and it seems like you could read small portions of some of the books.

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