Prequel Adventure: Failure is Compelling

I hate traveling north on I-95 during rush hour.  The constant stopping and plodding along makes my insides twist and turn.  I’m especially miffed when there’s an accident and drivers start being what’s commonly referred to as “nosy” where they slow down to take in every single little detail of the crash.  An appeal of a watching the aftermath of crash found in imagining how it all happened in the first place.  Was anybody hurt?  Whose fault was it? What was the extent of the damage?  It’s a spectacle, and everyone loves to watch a spectacle.  That, is until you happen to be the one experiencing the crash.  This is how the webcomic Prequel Adventure works.

Prequel is an story about multiple car crashes.  No, not literal car crashes, but a metaphorical ones.  Meanwhile the reader is like one of those nosy passersby, watching as the protagonist Katia Managan tries to veer away from potential danger.  Unfortunately for her, collisions are imminent.

Prequel is ongoing and interactive.  You can go online and make a suggestion to the author right now, if you wanted, and there’s a chance you may affect the outcome of any given situation Katia lands herself in.  The story set within the Elder Scrolls universe.  Readers who submit comments online serve as Katia’s subconscious voices, telling her what to do in any given situation.  The storytelling is largely based on what the readers dictate, which may warrant a commentary all on its own given how, more often than not, Katia’s actions lead to her failure.  However her failures leave just enough of a glimmer of hope that inspires readers to continue reading with the desire to see her succeed.  Unlike the heroes of games such as Skyrim, Morrowind, or Oblivion, Katia Managan is not given the to the grandeur as one would expect of a player character or protagonist.  On the contrary, her entire situation seems quite hopeless, as it is revealed over time she suffers from a severe lack of skills, money, and luck.  Oh, and alcoholism.

The experience of watching Katia fail over and over again is offset by the reader’s desire to see her succeed.  In fact, the desire to see her succeed is quite proportional to how thoroughly she’s been beaten throughout her journey.  What’s compelling about this story is how she will constantly pick herself up off the floor and try again.  Rarely have I found a story that so utterly dismantles its protagonist.  Prequel does so to the extent that it’s actually a pleasant surprise when she actually does run into any success.  In fact, there’s a sincere joy and happiness to be found in Katia’s victories, sparse as they are.

Prequel speaks to an element of human nature we’d all like to keep hidden, but all know is there: our capacity to fail.  One’s expectations that this young hero who sets off on adventure is awarded with overcoming adversity, but not for Katia.  Instead, Katia learns that having no money, no marketable skills, and no friends really doesn’t bode well under any circumstances.  However, not all protagonists need be heroic in order to be compelling.  Katia is compelling beause, in spite of all her blunders, she maintains a positive outlook, always looking forward with determination at completing her quest.

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