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You Couldn't Have Done That

by Ann Hugo profile


(based on 10 ratings)
3 member reviews

About the Story

Your first day on the job wasn't going to be pleasant. Such was inevitable. It's a big change. And, you are autistic.

But this was a different story, far worse than unpleasant.

Game Details

Language: English (en)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2020
Current Version: 1
Development System: Twine
IFID: 76849560-1D1D-4312-B7F3-2856A86C5791
TUID: mgbaf5l2tkigdwyf


Entrant - 26th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2020)


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Number of Reviews: 3
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
Short game about an autistic girl's first day at a new job, October 21, 2020
by RadioactiveCrow (Irving, TX)
Related reviews: About 15 minutes
Please know that I mean this with the utmost respect, and in the best way possible, when I call this piece an "autism simulator". I say it not at all to diminish the autistic experience, but rather to praise the game. I am not autistic myself, but I have a young son who is autistic, as well as several adult friends who are autistic. From observing their behavior and listening to them talk about what it is like, I think that this game does the best job I've ever seen at helping a non-autistic person experience what it is like to be autistic. The writing is properly terse and excellent at getting the player into the mindset of the main character and what she is dealing with in her first day at a new job; the things she likes about the job and the things that make her uncomfortable. The game features very limited choices that at first didn't seem to have a big impact on the game, a feature that I don't usually like. However, eventually you will make a choice that (Spoiler - click to show)is rejected by the game as something you can't do (hence the title) because of your brain just doesn't work that way. It is in these moments that you really feel the pain and discomfort of the character. When every interaction gets dialed up to 11, normal situations can be uncomfortable and bad situations can be hell.

I'd recommend everyone give this a playthrough to help you better understand some of your fellow humans. Well worth the little time it will take.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Heartbreaking, October 15, 2020
by deathbytroggles (Minneapolis, MN)
My son is autistic. He's bright, kind, and empathetic. Most days go fairly well for him now. But some days he has big emotions and his coping skills he's learned in order to deal with uncertainty go out the window. Right now he's young enough that we can always be there for him and let him work through it. And I have the fear that when he gets older, and he's in the real world, we won't be able to protect him from people who want to take advantage of him.

This brief Twine experience from Ann Hugo brought all those fears to the surface while doing so in an honest, compassionate manner. The story is on rails, but the choices given effectively convey the lack of agency autistic people feel when under stress. Every time I was trying to champion a choice that I wanted Theo to make, the story came back with "You Couldn't Have Done That," and I nodded my head as my heart broke a little.

Superb use of the medium and a gift to the IF community.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
You couldn't have done that, October 15, 2020
This game affected me rather deeply. It’s a mostly linear twine story about an autistic, gender nonconforming teen who gets a job at a clothing store in a mall. She has to deal with her anxiety around people, and her tendency to go nonverbal when confronted with certain social situations, and the negative reactions of others to said tendencies. This culminates in a moment of abuse from one of her coworkers.

It felt realistic to me, as someone who sometimes acts in ways similar to the protagonist. Her mental patterns felt familiar; the constant overthinking of every social interaction, the loss of rational capacity when stressed, the feeling of suddenly wanting to cry. The writing was simple but effective, fleshing out the characters and situations in a few brief sentences. After many choices, there is the message “You couldn’t have done that” at the top, and instead of doing whatever the choice described, the protagonist just freezes up, unable to speak or move away or do anything else. It was an effective narrative mechanism, in my opinion.

Anyway, I felt that this game was very effective at what it was trying to portray. The only potential problem I had was that it was too brief, but the story didn't really need to be any longer.

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This is version 4 of this page, edited by Zape on 10 October 2020 at 12:10pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item