The Curfew: a game about civil liberties and teenagers

Play This Thing reviews The Curfew, a game about civil liberties and teenagers that my wife, Alice Taylor commissioned for UK broadcaster Channel 4. The game, produced by Littleloud and written by Kieron Gillen, just won Best Educational Game at the Games for Change awards (it's a free-to-play Flash game, so you can judge for yourself -- or bring it into your classroom, or talk about it with your kids or friends).

Back in the early CD-ROM era, when the ability to do filmed video in a game was novel and the graphic adventure was still a commercially viable genre, there were a slew of mostly horrible games that tried to merge the adventure genre with filmed video. When I say "mostly horrible," imagine interminable, badly acted cut scenes with zero actual interaction, held apart by inventory puzzles in fairly crude graphics, or played out on photographs with a handful of lifeless interactions. Until playing The Curfew, I had come to the conclusion that merging video with the adventure game was an obviously bad idea, proven so by experience.

I have to say, however, that the combination works here, and works quite well. Part of the problem, back in the day, was the need to change what area of the disc was being read when a choice was made, so that there was always a perceptible lag whenever you made any choice that branched the video. Here, the clips are preloaded by the Flash framework, and the transitions are seamless. Also, the use of photography for the graphic adventure interactions themselves, coupled with small looped animations of characters drawn from video, makes the game feel alive even when you are not in the video itself. And finally, the developers have had the good taste and sense not to make the non-interactive sequences too lengthy or sententious.

The Curfew (Play This Thing)

The Curfew (game site)