Down the Rabbithole

Player Rating2.99/8

"Too few ratings to be ranked"
based on 25 ratings since 04/27/2020
played 162 times (finished 27)

Story Difficulty4/8

"march in the swamp"

Play Length2/8

"So short yo' momma thought it was a recipe"

Maturity Level4/8

"need to be accompanied by an adult"
Contains content that may not be suitable for persons under age 13. If this were a movie, it would probably be PG.

"Down the Rabbithole" is part of 10O's substance abuse campaign. It's designed to be a realistic look at what it's like to be peer pressured into trying an illicit substance. All characters are fictional, and any resemblance to people in real life is unintended.

Player Comments

This isn't a realistic or helpful take on drug addiction, which is a serious topic involving a number of social and physiological factors that can't just be condensed down to "continuing to drugs" vs. "stopping".

Also, you're doing the dialogue tag thing that everyone (myself included) sometimes does. When you end something in quotations, you don't have to capitalize the next word unless it's a proper noun. Please familiarize yourself with the dialogue punctuation rules. https://www.authorlearningcenter.com/writing/fiction/w/character-development/6491/8-essential-rules-for-punctuating-dialogue---article

You made decent use of the CYOA format by having multiple branches, which is good. There was nothing really wrong with the prose. The characters were pretty underdeveloped, but the writing was otherwise fine.

Overall, this is a strong 3/8 game. It accidentally strikes the tone of an 80s anti-drug PSA, making it more hilarious than anything else.
-- hetero_malk on 6/24/2020 3:52:37 AM with a score of 0
This was an interesting story game. I hated that the only way to win was by being a total narc but that’s besides the point.

Your descriptions leave something to be desired. They’re a bit dull, especially your descriptions about what being high is like. This is probably due to lack of experience, and no faults were too major. I’d suggest trying to think outside the box a bit as the characters seems to be a bit too cookie cutter in my opinion. That being said, I liked your explanation of the relationship between Henry and Chris. I definitely got the idea that they were very close friends that got along well.

Grammar is consistent. There’s mistakes here and there but nothing major enough to get in the way of comprehension.

The game is short, but it branches in a few different directions while still staying true to the main idea. Some of them were a bit ridiculous, like when we called the police because the sun was too hot, but most stuck nicely to the premise.

Now to the content: it was a bit too preachy. I understand this was probably for a school project, but even in that context, the moral was laid on thick. I’d suggest going about the idea of school kids and drugs in either a more subtle way or a more serious way. Something like a kid whose friend struggles with addiction or maybe he sees his parents do drugs. The moral of this story seems to be to not do drugs because you’ll do stupid things and get caught. I personally think it’s more important to talk more about long term consequences of hardcore drugs such as addiction and various health issues. Getting caught seemed to be the worst consequence in the game and well, to be honest, that kind of message just makes kids less likely to tell anyone if they did try a drug.

Overall, it had okay writing and a good message for kids but I think you went about it in a way that didn’t quite stick.
-- Orange on 4/28/2020 1:57:32 AM with a score of 0
lol

There was a lot more writing here than I expected for 2/8 length, I can tell you worked hard on it.

But lol.
-- Starbourne on 6/22/2020 3:34:51 PM with a score of 0
Even though the writing was pretty good, the descriptions of buying drugs and the effects of ecstasy were completely unrealistic. This isn't an educational game and should not be treated as such. There are many better sources to get actual information about drugs on.

The characters were somewhat fleshed out. There was a variety of cast members each with distinct personality traits. That is about all I can say for the substance of the story. The plot is terrible, the language was preachy and weird. There was one scene in particular that I found incredibly homophobic.

2/8 not worth the read. Makes me want to do drugs.
-- betaband on 5/6/2020 3:14:42 AM with a score of 0
The first time I won in 2 choices.

I really don’t get this storygame, I can tell a lot of effort went into it but it’s not very educational. Still okay.

4/8
-- 325boy on 5/3/2020 5:13:39 PM with a score of 0
A bit one dimensional but gets the point across that you are trying to make I suppose. I'm not sure this would put too many people off drugs (my Sociology teacher in college in one of her drunker moments in class cheerfully informed us "I'm not saying drugs are good but you should try everything at least once for yourself before forming an opinion about it") but it achieves your objectives. There are probably more heart-rending and effective ways to show the true tragedy drugs can have on peoples' lives though.
-- Will11 on 4/30/2020 11:11:49 PM with a score of 0
The writing is decent and the characterization shows glimmers that a normal storygame might have promise, but the plot is unrealistic and hammy.

This doesn't work as a PSA very well at all.
-- Camelon on 4/29/2020 2:40:10 PM with a score of 0
Please scroll to the next review if I’m being autistic, and totally misinterpreted the story, because I want to comment on the subject matter rather than the story quality itself.

So after reading the damn thing, I can’t make up if it’s written as a sarcastic piece, in that case, I guess you fooled me and good on you, or if this’ll be referenced as a new way to reach Australian high schoolers in your anti-drug PSA. For any schoolkids reading this, I suggest you skip on whatever they tell you, and head over to a site like https://www.drugsinfo.nl and https://www.unity.nl/, which while Dutch, is easily translated with a right mouse button and presents a much more objective and informative view on the whole thing, far more than I could present in this comment. They also detail, if you should choose to experiment, how to do so as safely as possible.

So let’s preface my rant with the drug in question: ecstasy/MDMA/XTC. You couldn’t have picked a worse substance if you wanted to tell a story about a fun first trip, ending in a crippling addiction. XTC is one of the illegal drugs that are actually (fun fact) less harmful than booze and is physiologically impossible to be addicted to. More on that later.

Now instead of trying to scare kids with fairytales, you should inform them of the facts. Kids aren’t stupid, teenagers are even less so. While they assess risks and long-term effects differently than adults, they are more than capable of coming to a decision if presented proper facts. So please stop mystifying drugs, giving them an alluring and dangerous vibe. It will only hinder any advancements so many people are trying to make worldwide. Anyways, give me a moment to sift through my old notes, and present them in a relatively accessible manner.

The line between legal, prescribed, and illegal drugs is artificial. Now I don’t say you should use this sentence to snort, inject or drink, or put in your arse anything you see, but I wanted to give you some perspective. They are all simply substances that have a pharmacologic effect on your body and your brain. Doctors use them to treat illnesses, people use them to self-medicate, governments decide based on guidelines, experience, and culture when some of those substances are illegal.

Let’s skip pharmacology 101 and zoom into party drugs and specifically those that have their entry in the dopamine system (so no shrooms/salvia/LSD or any of the hallucinatory kind). Dopamine is the little substance the brain uses to reward itself. When you’re hungry and receive food, the brain rewards that behavior with dopamine, making you happy and satisfied. It also works onto the immune system, motor functions, insulin production, and other things, but that’s way too specific.

So the reward system. It’s a clever system that our predecessors used to learn the behaviors required to survive. A tree full of nutritious nuts made you feel a reward at that place, resulting in your brain coupling you seeing that tree to expecting food and happiness. When you have multiple of those trees, eventually your brain will couple that type of tree to reward, prodding your lazy body to seek those specific trees out. It eventually conditions you to seek a reward when you spot certain cues. Does this behavior sound familiar?

So this dopamine system resulted in our predecessors being primed for survival. Those who had it were more motivated to stock up on food and sex than those that didn’t, resulting in their gifts being passed on to us. But nowadays we have plenty of food, just go to any supermarket and also plenty of sex. So while the system is still used by goal setting, rewarding you for every goal you achieve, it’s also become a bit obsolete.

Because in this society I’m not the only one that knows about this very specific subject matter. Marketing, phones, games, casinos, and even the food itself are specifically catered to hijack this system as much as possible, but I digress. What I wanted to say was that party drugs that aren’t hallucinatory also hijack this dopamine system, but are so effective at it, they can result in a heavy addiction, causing everything apart from the drug to feel monotonous and insignificant.

So globally you have two kinds of drugs: stimulating drugs and depressive drugs. While the names may be weird, they result in your nervous system either becoming stimulated or shutting down while both vie you a euphoric feeling.

Stimulating drugs are things like speed, cocaine, nicotine from cigarettes, and XTC. They increase your arousal, meaning you are less tired and more ‘in the moment’. It makes you and your surroundings feel like they’re important and that they matter. On the flip side they can cause agitation (see how that’s related to the positive effects), paranoia, excessive sweating, and hyperthermia. It’s basically putting your whole body on overdrive.

Depressive drugs are things like alcohol, weed, GHB, benzodiazepines, and opioids. They decrease your arousal, meaning you are less aware and less ‘in the moment’. In short, it makes you chill out and soothes pain too, which is why doctors use them sparingly in pain medication. As you’ll probably know from having too much of a drink, overusing them results in your nervous system shutting down, leaving you without fine motor skills, memory and eventually consciousness and breathing impulse.

Now with a slight background into the working of these drugs (you’re now basically on a college student level) let’s talk specifically about why using XTC for this story is complete and utter bullshit, and how that drug relates to booze and cocaine.
So this section will detail how I lied in all the previous paragraphs about it all being simple, and contradict everything I said earlier. I apologize in advance.

So in truth, the dopamine system is only one of many systems regulation your life, and drugs hijack the others too. You have probably heard of the dopamine one, and that one is the simplest and stands at the center of this all, hence my above explanation. But you also have a GABA, glutamate opioid, serotonin system, and countless others that are now less relevant. And that’s only the neurotransmitters, completely ignoring the neuroanatomy! Phew, what a deep subject this story has reduced to a simple XTC equals gay. If you hadn’t noticed already, this actually made me a little mad.

XTC contains MDMA, which bases its work mainly around the serotonin and the dopamine neurotransmitters. It removes your natural degradation and removal systems, effectively elevating their concentration. I already talked about the dopamine making you feel happier, the serotonin has a likewise working.

It eventually leads to a higher level of a third hormone: oxytocin, better known as the hug hormone. The whole package leads to elevated feelings of happiness, empathy, friendship, which are all decidedly not homoerotic. But it also impacts your body heat, effectively raising your temperature by one degree and also wants to make you drink more. Both can lead to severe health problems if you aren’t aware of them.

On the plus side, the brain has a limited supply of serotonin, while its effects don’t impact the dopamine system as much as other drugs, making it much much harder to get addicted to XTC. The only thing could be parties feeling bland without it.
Let’s contrast this with alcohol. Alcohol is actually one of the dirtiest drugs available on the market, meaning it affects a lot of systems which in medical thinking leads to a lot of complications. It actually affects different systems depending on its dose. And at this point, my laptop containing my notes fell out, so I’ll cut it really short from what stuck with me for 1.5 years.

Let’s start at the start. It lowers inhibitions, making you more fun and less anxious. Nice! But the more you take, the more it targets your glutamate and GABA systems. That’s bad. It starts with your motor functions, then it lowers the glutamate effectivity, impairing learning, and memory. Then, at last, the GABA shuts down your entire central nervous system, effectively sedating you. It also affects other systems in your brain, not to speak of its effect on the liver. All those effects are not present in XTC.

Now before you accuse me of hating alcohol, that’s not what I said. I just said that XTC is a cleaner drug that has less potential for abuse, making your story incredibly faulty for an anti-drug PSA. So, you must think by now, what then? I want to tell kids that drugs are bad, what do I do?

I suggest to take a peek at another drug in the stimulating corner: cocaine. Then I suggest cutting all the crap out with the sun and the fire and the gay shit.

I suggest telling a story of someone trying cocaine, making sure to light all risk factors and predisposing factors (both nature and nurture) that lay before that decision (please do your research, it’s not that hard and will allow you to be a better role model), and then approach the whole story with tact and depth. It won’t be a complete turn; you won’t become an addict within just one night. Instead, it’ll be akin an insidious habit that slowly but surely spreads its tendrils across your whole life, replacing everything you previously enjoyed with the drug itself. You won’t notice it at first. Until you one day look around and see relationships ruined, a career in shambles and your whole life dedicated to one goal: getting your fix.

It’s not a pretty sight and not everyone tries cocaine and becomes addicted. It’s based on both genes, upbringing, social pressure, stress, and a lot of other things. It’s not black and white. It’s a lot of gray that both terrifies people and helps them.

So when is someone exactly addicted to a substance? You should look for the DSM-V criteria for that, that’s basically a guideline of what the brightest of psychiatrists in America (but adopted worldwide) have agreed, based on the most up to date information about psychiatric conditions available. Wait, I just found out it’s behind a paywall I can’t shortcut by moving to my university due to corona. Oh well, of the top of my mind (and with a bit of cheating) it was this:

- Taking a substance in larger amounts, or longer than originally meant to
- Wanting to quit the substance, while unable to
- Investing a lot of time in using/obtaining/recovering from the substance
- Cravings and urges that impact daily life
- Having the substance negatively impact relationships, work, social or recreational activities
- Continual use, despite acknowledging it puts you in danger and worsens your physical and mental condition.

And the more physical symptoms:

- Building up a tolerance, requiring an ever higher dose of the substance to the same effect
- Withdrawal symptoms upon trying to lower or stop daily intake

So if this sounds relatable, please go to your General Practitioner (or any other form of the standard doctor in your country) and present your problem. He’ll put you in contact with the right people that’ll help you, people that actually care about you, and have dedicated their lives to help people like you. Nowadays we are much further in treatments that are both humane and effective.

In short, I am not advocating for drugs. On the contrary: personally, and after some years of fun and experiments, I’ve chosen for a life that’s completely drug-free. I just want to say that your good-intentioned story severely misrepresents the situation that is much more complex and in turn will only accomplish the opposite of what both of us want: kids growing up to be healthy and responsible people.
-- enterpride on 4/28/2020 10:22:55 PM with a score of 0
We get random educational things for students fairly commonly, and usually recommend they be unpublished and moved to Sneak Peek with the URL just shared with whoever it's intended for instead of left open in public comments. (The story should've been in that setting by default when it was created, but it can be set in Storygame Properties.)

This one however has enough actual writing with characters and dialogue and a plot that it might be able to handle being out in the wild. The message of 'drugs turn you gay' is hilarious and sure to piss somebody off. (Or is it more that drugs release the carefully suppressed inner gay?) It also was sort of maybe unintentionally amusing that the creepy old teacher wanted to meet you after class to 'reward you'.

There were a few issues though. One, the whole intro of establishing how happy and successful the protagonist is on this beautiful morning is kind of undermined when a page later you're slipping in that oh btw his dad is abusive and prone to violent rages.

It doesn't feel very realistic either that there's zero middle ground between just immediately taking ecstasy (right there at school...) or ratting Chris out to a teacher. I think in 90% of cases a real kid would just pretend he didn't see it or else be uncomfortable but not want to cause a confrontation with their friend. The consequences of that as the friend goes further downhill and you're the only one who knows why would've been something the story could've explored.

The option is there to go straight to school and rat Chris out immediately, but you still go to the same generic 'avoided something dangerous, and eventually Chris gets his life together' ending, even if the character would never have been aware of him doing anything but skipping class. (And btw, he's going to be encountering a lot worse when he goes off to Berkeley, or any uni...)

But in the end, even though this feels a little meh as a story, it was a much higher effort than most of these Very Important PSA type things we get. I would be happy to read like, an actual storygame from this author minus the futile attempts to impart moral lessons to dumbass teens.
-- mizal on 4/27/2020 9:06:54 AM with a score of 0
As a game to bring a message to youth to avoid drugs... It doesn't work. It uses a language that teens don't use, and it feels like one of those 50s cringe sex ed books.

As a literature piece, it doesn't work either, it doesn't have a real plot or meaningful dialogues or character customization.And choices are few and easy to know where it leads
-- poison_mara on 4/27/2020 8:31:19 AM with a score of 0
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