Ice-Bound: The Game that wants you to be a Writer

Of course, being a writer myself, I cannot begin to express how excited I am with this neat piece of reality. Essentially, it combines the exquisite narrative structures of literature with the interactive pleasures of gaming. Did you know that story games with high narrative process intensity (where story is generated or recombined in algorithmically fascinating ways, rather than being simply pre-authored) are still rare, in part because story creators are hesitant to cede control over output quality to a system?

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Consequently, most readers still encounter digital fiction in the form of linear e-books or simple branching-path models of interactive story. This means that getting more dynamic models into the public consciousness requires exploring new frontiers of design space driven by the twin concerns of fiction authors (for high-quality story actualization) and game designers (for frequent, high-impact player resolutions).

Ice-Bound being a indie game with powerful dynamic story techniques, rejects both branching-path models of interactive story in league with overwrought simulationist approaches. In lieu, aims at a middle-path aesthetic of sculptural depiction that weds the focus on exceptional output and with the player’s exploration of both an emergent expressive space and what I can only describe as an AR (Augmented Reality)-enabled canvas!

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Let’s hop to it, then:

In Ice-Bound, you have a sort of muse, if you will in the form of an AI christened- KRIS. Well, KRIS is a digitized version of the mind of an author, Kristopher Holmquist, who died a tad peculiarly decades ago (am already filled with what I call ‘literary goosebumps’).

Effectively, you want to assist assemble KRIS back together utilizing relics created by the individual it’s based on, because only KRIS can aid you and the publisher complete Holmquist’s strange final work, which was the consequence (put your Holmesian deerhat on, strap on your Indiana Jones persona) in an abandoned polar outpost. Elatedly, the unknown writer dies alone in an unheated New York apartment, pieces of an unfinished novel strewn in fragments across hard drives and data sticks.

So, a professor leads an expedition to the legendary Carina Station, an abandoned polar base sinking into ice, layers of frozen history stretching down to uncartograhic depths. The expedition is her last opportunity.

A cunning publisher commissions an AI simulacrum of a long-dead author, to finish his famously incomplete masterpiece. The AI is neurologically identical to its human predecessor, but as a constructed sentience, has no human rights.

What ensues is a curious book begins appearing, stacked on street corners and left on busses: a real paper book, filled with ‘fuzzy’ transmissions, contradictory drafts, distorted photos and vicious secrets. It’s a book only one person was ever meant to see. IceBound is a nested, recursive story inspired by writers like Borges and Nabokov (remember the awkward ‘Lolita’) and books like House of Leaves. To be honest those kind of books intrigue to know end because they explore certain aspects of our mind, probing deep into the confines of the soul, leaving us questioning the mystique of ontology vis-à-vis our own individual and collective existentialism.

What KRIS does is that he will react singularly towards not only what parts of the book you feed it, but the patterns in the order of your input. For instance, if you select more depression excerpts it will affect the mood and results of where you’re transported. Basically, how you engage with the text is how you play the game. If you’re not excited by now, then I really don’t know what would excite you and hope no longer springs eternal!


  • A dark future where human-level AIs have no human rights
  • A nested-doll narrative that reveals more depth the more it’s explored
  • Dynamic conversation with an intriguing, reactive character
  • Gameplay driven by cutting-edge interactive story research
  • Begin the experience with a free iPad app
  • Continue the story with the help of a gorgeous full-color print book
  • Augmented reality overlays add another layer to the book
  • Eight nested stories for 6-12 hours of gameplay
  • Thousands of constructive permutations of each story
  • It is for iPad 2+ and PCs with webcams that combines cutting-edge interactive story technology with an AR-enabled print book.

Though we live in a slightly more enlightened age, game’s constructive narrative system combines both the old and the new, to bring you that instance of the mind where every writer feels himself a sort of divine deity in elucidating the intricacies of Being.


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