Literacy in Myst Games, Part 4.5: Ages Beyond Myst

While quite possibly the least beloved installment of the Myst franchise (and technically a spinoff), the experimental Myst: Uru took the very mode of storytelling in a unique direction. It was much more you-centric, and community-centric, so much so that story was the background for personal exploration.

Uru_box_artIn the Myst games we went from opening a book to carrying and stealing books to repairing books and creating books. We did about everything with those linking books. Now what? We took it online. Where You Are You.

The Uru project involved a lot of user interaction and chat rooms. While we couldn’t create our own linking books, we could design our own Relto, a Myst Island-like age that users could add features to.

Of course, the game also had a “dead shopping mall” effect. But that didn’t stop a small number of people from using it over several years.

In this game, Yeesha has made you an age. It’s like she gave you a blank journal. Not only can you “write” in it, but you can also recreate the age to your liking, redesign it to fit your flavor. For Yeesha this is a near-miraculous kind of writing, a gift she decides to share with you.

In Uru, you can keep your own journal and keep it on the shelf. You really felt like you were adding to the collection of writings. In Uru and its expansions, writing is personalized. You have your own book. You have your own library.

At the same time, writing and reading are community acts. For the first time in a Myst game you see yourself in the acts of reading and writing with other people, continually creating and sharing. We use these tools of literacy to preserve, contextualize, and restore. Many of the books of the D’Ni culture have long been lost or destroyed. What little remains is uncertain and, as always, mysterious.

D’Ni is a city that is a library. Have you ever imagined a library like a city full of books? We also see strange ages from D’Ni’s past designed for specific purposes, and in a way these reflect books and reading as accomplishing specific goals:

  • As a resource to mine, or as food to consume (Teledahn)
  • As a place of training (Gahreesan)
  • As vaults of valuable info (Kadesh Tolesa)
  • As adventure (Eder Gira) and relaxation (Eder keto)
  • As time travel (Ahnonay)
  • As the secret to growth (Er’Cana)

When we discover old books, we walk previously trodden paths, and we learn from others who have written before us. This is something we didn’t explore quite as broadly in the previous Myst games, given that they were much more intimate about a family. Of course, there is one more game that gets into these broader themes of civilization as well.

The next post will be the last, and we’ll talk about the final Myst game, Myst 5: End of Ages.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s