I need your metaphors!

Hello all! I’m currently working on a Storynexus project (hopefully available for playtesting soon) that partly takes place in a literal representation of a computer. So for example, the computer is a building, and the player may be exploring this building and encounter a recycle bin containing ‘deleted’ files that they may then look through. Or run into a literal Firewall.

I humbly request further ideas for this sort of thing: stuff you would find in a computer/server that could be represented in a literal or metaphorical way. I’m especially interested in security systems such as the firewall idea above. I obviously have more than the above already, but other people’s cool ideas would speed development and provide some variety. If I use your idea you get a thank you in the game, plus probably an in-game item when I get round to it.

Thank you lovely people in advance!

How concerned are you about accuracy?

It’s only accurate as a very rough approximation, but the Internet = series of tubes is sort of a classic (as a cultural meme, if nothing else)

Off the top of my head:

Webcrawlers/Webspiders - enemies that index the computer…the more times you lose to them the more “known” you to the enemy since information about you is indexed.

A flash drive = a room which when something is accomplished is plugged into a different computer and opens up more locations.

Backup drive - A place where everything is eerily similar to the real world but frozen in place and with minor changes. Perhaps the character would need to access the backup drive to check a situation that used to be one way and then changed, perhaps to find out what’s been deleted or wasn’t present before.

A bandwidth bottleneck: The character or something they carry or the amount they carry is too great and they must either change their size, or shut off some other systems to open up bandwidth and “make the doorway big enough”.

A pictures folder which may contain suspicious or incriminating photos, or a view of the room the computer is in to see who is present, perhaps give access to a webcam to spy on the user.

Junk Email Folder where you are overwhelmed by spam messages (must cards) that slow your progress. You have to use a blacklist to remove them and clear the way.

Popup Advertisements - an easily defeated but rather annoying enemy.

The Registry - nothing makes sense but you can do extraordinary harm or amazing things by rearranging or changing things.

Virus Scanner - a giant machine that goes through and kills anything not supposed to be there. You have to avoid it until you are leet enough.

Encryption - Certain items are encrypted and baffling until your level is raised enough to decrypt them.

A Program or computer filled with bugs?

Mailer Daemon.

Ooh, some nice ideas here, thanks! Plans are forming in my brain pan.

As for accuracy, not too fussed, abstract stuff is great. Although I already have a plan for the Internet. Might sneak in some tubes at some point though :)
edited by elvor on 2/21/2013

Various software might be interesting - text editors, image software, the command prompt, a spreadsheet editor, a programming IDE (ie, a program for making programs)… What are they, though? People? Monsters?

Speakers/headphones, printer, other peripherals. I am imagining the printer as a gigantic control room, with switches and LEDs everywhere, which perhaps they can make actually print something, if they can figure out how it all works.

A rarely-available path to a plugged-in device like a mobile phone.

Antivirus sweeps. Malware and trojan viruses.


Desktop widgets.

Most of all, the file system, ie folders upon folders upon folders. A labyrinth.

Games. Can they enter world of warcraft as a portal from the desktop?

The cursor, which would be especially interesting when it’s in use. Similarly, it might be interesting if you described occasional hard-to-identify objects whizzing by, messages from the OS to programs and vice versa (such as events being triggered by the keyboard).

There are a lot of interesting things on here, the only thing I’d add re: anti-virus, i sort of see it as a big hyperdermic needle, or an actual medic if you want an adversary or character the player can interact with.

Maybe a way to represent the infamous “Blue Screen of Death”? perhaps as a large blue labyrinth that requires drastic measures to escape from?