Novel-length video game set in Scarborough a 'downer', admits creator

WhatsOn Aug 10, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Little Red Lie, a video game set mainly in Scarborough, talks a lot, lets you do very little, wears you down and finally breaks your heart.

There are no zombies to shoot in Will O’Neill’s story dramatizing millennial fears about personal debt, failure and the world becoming increasingly brutal and unfair.

O’Neill, who grew up in Scarborough, stages much of the action in what he calls “Toronto’s most notorious, misunderstood and fiercely proud suburb.”

Not that this matters, except to people who know the former borough well enough to recognize Kennedy Station or other current or former landmarks of Scarborough that O’Neill, 36, slyly incorporates.

An important family photo has the Cedarbrae Theatre, now gone, as its backdrop. One character crashes his car into the front of what looks exactly like Caddy’s strip club.

The protagonists of Little Red Lie (from WZO Games Inc.) are Sarah Stone, unemployed and desperate, and Arthur Fox, a rich motivational speaker O’Neill says started out with elements of the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, but “a lot of Donald Trump started to bleed in.”

Unlike action-oriented games in which characters use the “classic nine verbs” — attack or defend, pick objects up — O’Neill’s can do nothing but talk incisively to themselves and lie.

Text which constitutes a lie appears in red, and sometimes the lies are funny. Lying isn’t necessarily bad, since honesty can help or hurt us, O’Neill says.

“If we were just to tell each other the truth all the time, none of us would get along.”

The limited choices reflect a loss of the control people expect in games. Little Red Lie contains a novel-length 80,000 words, and much of it, O’Neill says, reflects tension between baby boomers and millennials, “raised to believe we could pursue our passions, and do what we want.”

For millennials, apparently, there’s no going back to the calm, comfortable state of their childhoods.

“There’s this huge undercurrent of economic anxiety in my generation,” O’Neill says. “We’re all probably getting help from our parents, but we don’t talk about it.”

Here’s a spoiler O’Neill doesn’t mind you seeing: Stone and her whole boxed-in Scarborough family are doomed. Fox, who spouts such lines as “Love without money is a lie,” does evil and escapes punishment.

Stone suffers like Job, and ends up obliterated. Her end, O’Neill admits, is “wrong and unreasonable.”

Is all this a downer?

Well, yes, admits O’Neill, whose first game, Actual Sunlight, “was about suicidal depression.”

Still, though mainstream games are “regressing to evermore childlike tropes,” there are people into artistic games — a tiny niche market, compared to the latest Resident Evil release — who love this stuff intensely.

O’Neill, who by day is a copy writer and creative director for corporate events, says he believes in what he’s doing. “I’m pushing a boulder up a hill,” he explains.

Already, O’Neill is planning two other games to be set in Scarborough. One, he says, is about living with chronic pain.

Check it out at http://www.littleredlie.com/

Novel-length video game set in Scarborough a 'downer', admits creator

Will O'Neill's Little Red Lie dramatizes millennial fears

WhatsOn Aug 10, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Little Red Lie, a video game set mainly in Scarborough, talks a lot, lets you do very little, wears you down and finally breaks your heart.

There are no zombies to shoot in Will O’Neill’s story dramatizing millennial fears about personal debt, failure and the world becoming increasingly brutal and unfair.

O’Neill, who grew up in Scarborough, stages much of the action in what he calls “Toronto’s most notorious, misunderstood and fiercely proud suburb.”

Not that this matters, except to people who know the former borough well enough to recognize Kennedy Station or other current or former landmarks of Scarborough that O’Neill, 36, slyly incorporates.

Related Content

An important family photo has the Cedarbrae Theatre, now gone, as its backdrop. One character crashes his car into the front of what looks exactly like Caddy’s strip club.

The protagonists of Little Red Lie (from WZO Games Inc.) are Sarah Stone, unemployed and desperate, and Arthur Fox, a rich motivational speaker O’Neill says started out with elements of the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, but “a lot of Donald Trump started to bleed in.”

Unlike action-oriented games in which characters use the “classic nine verbs” — attack or defend, pick objects up — O’Neill’s can do nothing but talk incisively to themselves and lie.

Text which constitutes a lie appears in red, and sometimes the lies are funny. Lying isn’t necessarily bad, since honesty can help or hurt us, O’Neill says.

“If we were just to tell each other the truth all the time, none of us would get along.”

The limited choices reflect a loss of the control people expect in games. Little Red Lie contains a novel-length 80,000 words, and much of it, O’Neill says, reflects tension between baby boomers and millennials, “raised to believe we could pursue our passions, and do what we want.”

For millennials, apparently, there’s no going back to the calm, comfortable state of their childhoods.

“There’s this huge undercurrent of economic anxiety in my generation,” O’Neill says. “We’re all probably getting help from our parents, but we don’t talk about it.”

Here’s a spoiler O’Neill doesn’t mind you seeing: Stone and her whole boxed-in Scarborough family are doomed. Fox, who spouts such lines as “Love without money is a lie,” does evil and escapes punishment.

Stone suffers like Job, and ends up obliterated. Her end, O’Neill admits, is “wrong and unreasonable.”

Is all this a downer?

Well, yes, admits O’Neill, whose first game, Actual Sunlight, “was about suicidal depression.”

Still, though mainstream games are “regressing to evermore childlike tropes,” there are people into artistic games — a tiny niche market, compared to the latest Resident Evil release — who love this stuff intensely.

O’Neill, who by day is a copy writer and creative director for corporate events, says he believes in what he’s doing. “I’m pushing a boulder up a hill,” he explains.

Already, O’Neill is planning two other games to be set in Scarborough. One, he says, is about living with chronic pain.

Check it out at http://www.littleredlie.com/

Novel-length video game set in Scarborough a 'downer', admits creator

Will O'Neill's Little Red Lie dramatizes millennial fears

WhatsOn Aug 10, 2017 by Mike Adler Scarborough Mirror

Little Red Lie, a video game set mainly in Scarborough, talks a lot, lets you do very little, wears you down and finally breaks your heart.

There are no zombies to shoot in Will O’Neill’s story dramatizing millennial fears about personal debt, failure and the world becoming increasingly brutal and unfair.

O’Neill, who grew up in Scarborough, stages much of the action in what he calls “Toronto’s most notorious, misunderstood and fiercely proud suburb.”

Not that this matters, except to people who know the former borough well enough to recognize Kennedy Station or other current or former landmarks of Scarborough that O’Neill, 36, slyly incorporates.

Related Content

An important family photo has the Cedarbrae Theatre, now gone, as its backdrop. One character crashes his car into the front of what looks exactly like Caddy’s strip club.

The protagonists of Little Red Lie (from WZO Games Inc.) are Sarah Stone, unemployed and desperate, and Arthur Fox, a rich motivational speaker O’Neill says started out with elements of the late Toronto mayor Rob Ford, but “a lot of Donald Trump started to bleed in.”

Unlike action-oriented games in which characters use the “classic nine verbs” — attack or defend, pick objects up — O’Neill’s can do nothing but talk incisively to themselves and lie.

Text which constitutes a lie appears in red, and sometimes the lies are funny. Lying isn’t necessarily bad, since honesty can help or hurt us, O’Neill says.

“If we were just to tell each other the truth all the time, none of us would get along.”

The limited choices reflect a loss of the control people expect in games. Little Red Lie contains a novel-length 80,000 words, and much of it, O’Neill says, reflects tension between baby boomers and millennials, “raised to believe we could pursue our passions, and do what we want.”

For millennials, apparently, there’s no going back to the calm, comfortable state of their childhoods.

“There’s this huge undercurrent of economic anxiety in my generation,” O’Neill says. “We’re all probably getting help from our parents, but we don’t talk about it.”

Here’s a spoiler O’Neill doesn’t mind you seeing: Stone and her whole boxed-in Scarborough family are doomed. Fox, who spouts such lines as “Love without money is a lie,” does evil and escapes punishment.

Stone suffers like Job, and ends up obliterated. Her end, O’Neill admits, is “wrong and unreasonable.”

Is all this a downer?

Well, yes, admits O’Neill, whose first game, Actual Sunlight, “was about suicidal depression.”

Still, though mainstream games are “regressing to evermore childlike tropes,” there are people into artistic games — a tiny niche market, compared to the latest Resident Evil release — who love this stuff intensely.

O’Neill, who by day is a copy writer and creative director for corporate events, says he believes in what he’s doing. “I’m pushing a boulder up a hill,” he explains.

Already, O’Neill is planning two other games to be set in Scarborough. One, he says, is about living with chronic pain.

Check it out at http://www.littleredlie.com/