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Mother Tongue

by Nell Raban

Slice of life
2020

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Number of Reviews: 8
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:
Short and sentimental; old message, new medium, October 5, 2020
by WidowDido (Northern California)
Related reviews: if comp 2020
A quick game concerning the relationship between immigrants and their first-generation children (in this case, a Filipino mother and her child). The conversation plays out over a series of text messages, with the mother teaching/explaining a few phrases and words of Tagalog.

The game is not effective at learning language--which is perhaps part of the point. Even if you get the majority of the questions correct, the player comes away without any real grasp of Tagalog. Likely what a real person in the position of either the mother or child would feel.

I think the medium is perhaps the most innovative element of this piece. There are countless pieces of fiction and social science addressing how a new country, a new language, and modernization change the relations between parent and child, as well as how the child will relate to their own ethnic group. I don't think that too many new things have been said on these tropes in this work. But, the author does succeed in placing old wine in a new bottle by forcing the player to communicate through texts--rather than writing a Twine piece that takes the form of a phone call or a parser game where the same information is discovered through recovered memories. Not only is texting probably more representative of contemporary communication, but it is quite effective at heightening the distance between mother and child.

Not an amazing game, but good. People interested in exploring issues of immigration, language and identity should certainly play through this piece.

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Spike, October 5, 2020 - Reply
Good review. Reading this deepened my understanding of the game.
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