Video Game / Alter Ego
is a part roleplaying game part life simulator released for Apple ][
, Commodore 64
and Mac OS
and created by Activision
in 1986. It was first released with a male version and later re-released with a female version. The game is all about you
and how you live your life, making decisions that will make or break you as you grow up. The game begins with a personality test featuring a series of true and false questions to make up your personality. Afterwards, you will constantly make decisions of how you feel or act to scenarios, starting from your birth and continuing off through your Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Young Adulthood, Adulthood, Middle Age and Old Age chapters of your life. The goal is to live your life as long and as fulfilling as possible, although it certainly doesn't stop you from trying to off yourself as early and painfully as possible.
Not to be confused with tropes pertaining to an alter ego
, nor with a different game of the same name released for the PC and Wii
This game provides examples of:
- Abandonware: Both the female and male versions are now distributed for easy download as this. There's even a version playable online.
- Accidental Pervert: The man who gropes your spouse. He had cerebral palsy and the groping was an accidental involuntary movement for which he would've apologized if you don't make a scene.
- Action Girl: You (played more straight in the female version).
- Adult Fear: All of them. Some in the periodic random forced events, some in selected events.
- Alone with the Psycho: In the Childhood chapter, it is possible for you to get kidnapped by a man who had a history of torturing and killing children. If you're playing as a male, there is just as good a chance of you being tortured and killed as there is of the police catching the guy and saving you.
- Your dad during the Childhood chapter against the lawnmower. As you are very young at the time and none the wiser to bad language yet, you can choose to mimic the typical angrishness your dad would show to his lawnmower named $@*%#.
- And the boss for male characters. You get to break his nose and then are treated as a hero when he is about to fire you.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: You go through this in the very last scenario in the Old Age chapter as you relive the memories of your life.
- Ax-Crazy: During an after-school fight with a violent boy in your Childhood stage, there is a chance the boy will pull out a knife after you punched him and attempt to stab you with it, being stopped in doing so by a teacher who rescues you. However, in the times this doesn't turn violent, the boy will instead be laughed at and run away crying upon being punched. Also, in your Adult stage, there is a maniac driver who will nearly crash into you and further attempt to kill you by either running you off the road or shooting you if you provoke him.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: As a female character, a kid named Kirby writes some slanderous material about you on one of the stalls of the boys' bathroom at your school. You have the option of sneaking in there and erasing it. As a male character, you can draw some of your own. Although, you get caught red-handed by none other than Mr. Black.
- Be Yourself: What the narrator encourages you to do, especially if you made a choice of following the popular crowd.
- Beware the Nice Ones: You can be a very nice character and yet, if your response fits, react very offensively to those who threaten you. Your mom also applies, especially beyond Infancy.
- During Infancy there is one occasion where one of your parents' friends puts his face right up to yours when looking at you. You, a seemingly innocent toddler, are given the option of punching him squarely in the nose.
- During your childhood you are free to wipe the floor with bully-blood, even if you have been kind to your friends and the lonely old lady.
- Big Fun: Louis, a big boy you meet in your Adolescence stage. The fun comes when you choose to be nice to him and invite him to your party despite your Jerkass friends saying otherwise due to his weight, where you become good friends with him and his mother will invite you and him to a trip to Hawaii.
- Break the Cutie or Break the Haughty: Both you and numerous other characters you'll directly influence.
- Camp Straight: Mr. Andre, whom you and your friends mistake for an obviously gay man. If you choose to help him after school, you learn he is, in fact, straight, and has a wife and a daughter around your age at the time who the narrator puts great effort in pointing out she is incredibly attractive.
- Canon Discontinuity: Within the game. You can do a lot of really huge events from being hailed as a hero to being a beloved rock-star in a band, or to have been arrested for selling drugs or setting your house on fire. Other than alter your stats, most of what you do will rarely ever be mentioned again beyond the scenario they took place in.
- The Casanova: You, especially during your Childhood, Adolescence and Adulthood chapters.
- Creepy Uncle: Your Uncle Sam likes you a lot.
- Cut-and-Paste Environments: Only a few scenarios (not including gender-specific ones so you won't have cases like all female characters having odd penile health scares) were unique or changed between the male and female versions. An in-story version also applies to some of the scenarios you had as a child and your own child will have growing up, only you're viewing them in different perspectives.
- Dark and Troubled Past: You can do a lot of dangerous things in your childhood that can lead you to nearly getting yourself killed or harming or injuring others. However, beyond stat-reasons, they'll hardly ever be brought up again.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Mentioned once or twice.
- Deadpan Snarker: The Narrator and sometimes you.
- Despair Event Horizon: In the Middle Age chapter, a scenario involves your spouse trying to impose a specific diet on you to keep you healthy. If you cheat on your diet with too many things on the side, you'll die. What adds more insult to injury, however, was at the time your spouse isn't home and thus didn't receive the call from the police about your death, and she had to learn of your death and cause of death from her neighbors. Afterward, your spouse was so broken that she needed to be rehabilitated and medicated to move on.
- Died Happily Ever After: You at the last scenario in the Old Age chapter.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In some instances where some NPC screws you over, you have the option of getting back at him. However, sometimes what the character did to you (such as a girl giving you "the look" because she's secretly having a crush on you yet shows it in a way a 5-year-old Tsundere would) and what you do to them (such as shoving said girl so hard from behind that she injures her face when she fell), well...
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mr. Black
- Driven to Suicide: You can drive yourself into a suicidal mood and kill yourself, accidentally or intentionally. There is also the old lady you meet in your childhood, whom previously lost her husband and son in an accident that you won't know of unless you befriend her. Taunt her instead, and she'll wish herself to die, passing away a week later. Johnny, your suicidal friend in Adolescence, also counts who can be saved if you act quickly, or successfully kill himself if you fail.
- Fake Difficulty: Some of the scenarios are a bit more difficult to go through without a bad result because either vital information was withheld from you, or because the result is luck-based. Such as how when you decide to chat with your date when it's mentioned forward attempts cause them to clam up, you aren't told until after you talk that you've had your hand on their leg the entire time, or when you're supposed to guess the color of a car between white and red, unaware of what color the car was or that it was snowing at the time. C'est la vie.
- Family Versus Career: Certain events ask whether you want to make major moves or choices in your career that'll improve your job but cause you to neglect your family. Your spouse also has a potential event of attending college even if it means spending less time with you or her work (thus you can feel neglected and you'll have fewer resources).
- Final-Exam Boss: Some of the intelligence scenarios in the Childhood and Adolescence chapters are tests that raise or lower your intelligence stat if you get the answers correct or incorrect.
- First-Name Basis or Last Name Basis: You, depending on what name you enter and if you chose to enter one or both names.
- For the Lulz: Some of the instances you want to do something stupid or bad can lead to this.
- Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: One of the scenarios involves hiring a babysitter. The one who shows up is dressed in 80's punk fashion with plenty of leather, a six-inch-high lime green mohawk, and enough piercings to overload metal detectors. She's also carrying some heavy-duty child psychology textbooks and college homework. Turns out to be Best Babysitter Ever if you can look past the odd fashion sense.
- Gay Option: So far averted, but the online version may add it in. Eventually.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: When visiting the fortune teller, (who has a vaguely Eastern European Accent), you are not prompted with the usual responses of "Yes or "No", but instead, "Da" or "Nyet".
- Hello, [Insert Name Here]
- High School Sweethearts: In the male version, if you dated with or went steady with a girl during your Adolescence years.
- Infant Immortality: You survive many potentially lethal accidents you may or may not get yourself into throughout your Infancy, Childhood and Adolescence years.
- If you choose to exercise caution when searching the kitchen during Infancy, the narrator mentions that you could have been killed by some of the chemicals stored in the pantry, had you chosen not to be cautious. However, the worst possible outcome of this scenario is having your Physical sphere dropped to 1%.
- Subverted during the kidnapper scene in Childhood, where death is a high possibility unless the most sensible set of responses is chosen.
- Played more straight in the female version; if the kidnapper captures you, he will be pulled over by the police for having a defective headlight as he is about to reach the highway, saving your life in the process.
- In the male version, there is one childhood experience where your friends are going out to climb a tall rock together. Your parents do not allow you to go for fear of your safety, and rightly so; you later find out one of your friends fell from the rock and died from the resulting injuries. However, if you decide to go against your parents' wishes, there is a chance you will be the one to fall off of the rock; you sustain the same injuries, but survive the ordeal... with a Physical sphere of 1%.
- Innocent Inaccurate: Your experiences with the death of your pet fish and the dishwasher's or lawnmower's "name".
- Jerkass: You, if you feel so inclined.
- Jerkass Fašade: Sometimes if you pull off jerkish moves and either fail to act tough or follow up with a not-so-jerkish move, the narrator is convinced this is you.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: It is possible to be a complete dick the majority of the game and still perform key events that would either make you a hero or save someone else's life.
- Kids Are Cruel:
- The encounter with Louis/Louise in your Childhood years. You can either play this straight, or subvert it. Subverting it will earn you a more uplifting ending to the scenario than playing it straight.
- Another example of this takes place in infancy when you are playing in the sandbox. Another, more aggressive, child will come up to you and attempt to steal your toy. In the resulting fight, it is possible for the kid to start beating you over the head with your own toy. (Which is made of metal.) It's quite brutal, and the kid can beat you to death.
- An even better example: the "witch" woman. You can end up bullying her to death. Or not, of course.
- The Many Deaths of You: It's possible to die of old age, it's possible to be buried in a landfill by a child molester, it's possible to commit suicide. Have a Nice Death.
- Miss Conception: This can be invoked and then lampshaded in a scenario with your boyfriend/girlfriend in your adult years, wherein you don't have a condom and have to decide whether to go through with sleeping with them or not. If you choose to assure your boyfriend/girlfriend that it's okay as long as you use the "pull out" method, the narrator will lecture you on it.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: The lonely old lady in the neighborhood during your childhood, taunted as the witch.
- Mood Whiplash: It is possible for you to play a character who is very happy and upbeat about life, and yet still encounter scenarios portraying you as clinically depressed. You can also have the inverse, as there are no penalties for playing a suicidal character who is extremely happy or responds happily during a specific scenario.
- Mr. Fanservice: Both you in certain events (the boy-band scenario, for instance), and the wish fulfillment your spouse would dream up, especially in Adulthood and Middle Age.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: If you died prematurely, the narrator sometimes remarks that your family and friends felt this way (especially during the more sudden deaths).
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: A lot of the times you try to fix something, like an appliance, you either make it worse before it gets better (if your stats meet the mark) or make it guaranteed to be impossible to repair afterward. You can also break yourself in the long run and at one point if you get brave enough to set a piece of paper on fire, you have a chance of burning your house down.
- No Fair Cheating: If your character does something bad, such as shoplift or literally cheating (on tests), and he either has a very strong reputation of being bad or never had a history of being bad up till now, the player will very likely be caught for anything and be punished.
- Playing Doctor: In the childhood stage, you can do this with a friend of the opposite gender, and it may randomly go bad for you if you go with it.
- Please Wake Up: In the Childhood stage, you own a pet goldfish named Gabriella, whom you find one morning to have stopped moving. You can choose to tell your mother about it who will explain to you that she died, but you can also choose to keep her where you will hide her body in your drawers, occasionally put her back in the tank to see if she moves, and even try to forcefeed food in her mouth before you eventually understand she'll never move.
- Pop Quiz: The game begins with one made entirely of true/false questions.
- Precision F-Strike: Although you never say anything explicit outright (it's always symbol-censored), you can make precision swear strikes as young as in the Childhood chapter (although with punishment) onward, where in Adulthood it is used for wittier remarks with fewer backfires.
- Rape as Backstory: Only in the male version, but you can apply for a job that involves you starring in adult movies, actively engaging in sex in Adolescence. However, it turns out the studio owner is a crook and you are constantly raped and humiliated while he rolls the tape, ending with your boss kicking you out without pay while telling you you're lucky he's letting you live, followed by him disappearing without a trace if you tell your parents or the police. How straight this trope plays, however, varies because it is never brought up again after the scenario ends.
- Random Number God: While most of the outcomes and scenarios are decided by your choices and your traits, some of the outcomes fall into this with some being blessings and other being curses or bad results whatever choices you make. As seen below, there are more curses than blessings, through many of these have a very slim chance of happening and some may be removed from the 1985 edition in the web and iPhone editions:
- Blessings: Getting born with an random event that gives you $1000 extra starting cash (may be a margin of error of $1 through), getting born with an random event where your father buys a baseball glove that increases your physical traits, throwing a brick across the window without breaking anything in childhood, defeating the bully in childhood without him taking out the knife (or in the female game, getting her friends to jump on you), winning the cereal and comic book contests and getting money from it, learning something from the vocational meeting in young adulthood if you have a career and attaining resources from it, seeing that Mr. Harry (the candy seller) did not get cancer and moving to Florida (most cases where the event is experienced he contacts cancer and dies shortly after you visit him), taking much of the town with him to his new home, and having your secret recipe sold to a food company.
- Curses: Getting born with either or BOTH the milk and the breathing defect, Getting unlucky enough to have some of the events in infancy and childhood that would normally decrease your stats or end up in a bad choice resulting in your death, getting scarred in any manner while your father is ironing the shirt, having the bully who stole your toy truck in infancy come back to face you when you go back to retrieve it after running from him, failing the "in car scenario" in infancy despite your intellect(the one where you have to answer if it's a tiger or Zebra), getting caught and killed by the molester in Childhood DESPITE making the right choice, getting an event about an emotionally troubled relative or family member attempting suicide that causes your social status to take a significant PLUNGE in the adolescence stage, not being crowned king & queen at the senior prom with a steady girlfriend, getting events in young adulthood having your father die from a traffic accident via drunkenness or a heart attack or your mother dying from cancer (which closes off many events that require both parents to be alive AND living together), learning nothing from the vocational meeting in young adulthood if you have a career, getting random events about your parents divorcing and your father coming back and killing you, failing to sell your secret recipe, failing to sell well from your book if you succeed in writing it due to financial and publishing difficulties, getting an event where you find out that your date is married and getting caught by his/her husband/wife after trying to have an affair with them, thus ending the relationship (similarly there is one where you refuse to talk about marriage in adulthood and he/she leaves you as a result), and finally, getting jilted on wedding day and abandoned at the altar by your fiancée (this even happens if he/she has an honest personality, through, for the iPhone version, the frequency of this could have been an occasional bug)
- Sarcasm-Blind: Your date's father averts this trope amazingly if you respond to his questions about his child by implying you'll spend all night feeling her up and hope to have sex before the night ends. Whether you were really sarcastic or not.
- Self-Deprecation: A lot of the instances you become depressed are when you chose depressing or degrading responses or focus on your lack of self-worth or self-confidence rather than from after-results of wrong choices.
- Shotgun Wedding: If you play as a female, in your Adolescent years you will have a friend who will get pregnant, marry her boyfriend, and invite you to the wedding. It's never really stated as to whether the wedding was the couple's decision together, or if was a totally straight shotgun wedding decided by their parents.
- Smug Snake: Sometimes you, other times the narrator.
- Stern Techer: The teachers when they ain't downplayed Sadistic Teachers.
- Supreme Chef: You can potentially be one in Adulthood where you try to think of the right ingredient to add to make a dish your family and friends rave about. If the Random Number God agrees with you, you can become an overnight fast food sensation as well.
- Take That: Sometimes, if you try to go against something the narrator really, really tries hard to make you go for, the narrator will pull this on you to either make your path null or to make you go to their path anyways. An example is in Childhood, where you can choose to watch a new Superduck episode or help your dad with yard work. Insist on doing the former instead of bonding with your dad with the latter, and the narrator will say, "The episode was a repeat, so there!"
- Tempting Fate: So many, many times you can do so that some choices are outright labeled "push your luck".
- That One Episode: The episode with the kidnapper during the Childhood phase has gained near memetic status due to how very easy it is to die during it, especially relative to how early in the game it appears.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: The crazy driver in the Adulthood chapter in the female version right after he runs you into a ditch and before he shoots you to death.
- Tranquil Fury: You, if you choose to calmly go after the driver who cuts you off on the road in Young Adulthood.
- Tsundere: You have certain scenarios where you can first make hostile responses and then follow up with more gentle ones, or you can choose to be hostile to some and gentle to others.
- Video Game Caring Potential AND Video Game Cruelty Potential: Either can be invoked. You can either play as a totally caring person with a great life, or consistently screw yourself and others over for the lulz.
- Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: You are offered sex by a friend you helped painting her room. If you refuse it because you are seeing someone and don't want to cheat, the narrator comments with who said chivalry is dead?
- Widow Witch: Your childhood neighbor you can be nice to.
- Womb Level: The very first scenario you play involves your birth and whether you want to be born peacefully, to be born as painfully as possible, or to stay inside your mother for so long that you force her to have a C-section.
- You Would Make a Great Model