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Façade is an interactive story game created by Michael Mateas and Andrew Stern that uses artificial-intelligence (AI) to react to the player’s typed responses. The game has been the subject of parody online due to its low quality graphics, glitches and odd responses.
Façade was released for the Windows operating system as a free download on the Interactive Story website on July 5th, 2005. The Apple product news blog Macworld reported that a Mac conversion of the game had been produced by programmer Ryan Gordon on August 23rd, 2006.
The player assumes the role of a guest visiting the married couple Grace and Trip at their apartment. It becomes clear that the couple’s marriage is in decline and the player can attempt to resolve the conflict by typing in responses. These discussions can result in a variety of scenarios where the couple gets back together, leaves each other or asks you to leave. The game is notable due to its complex artificial intelligence which allows for a wide range of responses and interpretations of the player’s input.
When the game was initially released, it received a mostly positive response due to its innovative gameplay mechanics. An incomplete version of the game made it to the the finals of the 2004 Independent Games Festival. On June 7th, 2005, the game was covered in the New York Times arts section calling it “the future of video games.” It went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Slamdance Independent Games Festival and was featured in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die in October of 2010.
The game has been featured in several humorous “Let’s Play” videos on YouTube. One of the first was uploaded by YouTuber kazztawdal on September 14th, 2009, in which he plays as if he were Genghis Khan, the Great Khan of the 13th century Mongol Empire (shown left). The video was submitted to Reddit on July 19th, 2010 and received 504 up votes prior to being archived.YouTuber Cr1TiKaL, known for his video game “Game-play and Commentary” videos, uploaded a Façade video (shown right) on April 29th, 2011. With over 2,428,210 views as of February 24th, 2012, it is the most viewed Façade video on YouTube.
The game saw a resurgence in popularity in late January 2012 on Tumblr, with the launch of Ask Trip and Grace blog where users could ask the fictional characters questions. The Unpopular Façade Opinions blog, which features image macros related to the game, was created on January 29th.
Throughout the game, the word “melons” is interpreted as a euphemism for breasts by the game AI, making it difficult for players to differentiate between the euphemism and the fruit in literal context. Since the couple have bizarre, over-the-top reactions to any mention of the word, “Melons” has become a popular source of parody.
Modified fan versions of the game have been produced, in which certain elements have been altered or added to the rooms including decorations, characters and the view through the window.
The game has also inspired numerous works of fanart and photoshopped images drawing on some of the game’s interesting elements.