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Strip ’Em All – The Narcissist

The Egocentric - Strip Ém All - Logo


Play Strip ’Em All,
the story building game where you use psychology to solve puzzles and play with comics!

Play The Narcissist,
the third game comic in Strip ’Em All!

Of the six panels visible from the start, four depicts a man of early middle age, one panel depicts an exploding statue, and another one depicts the exploding earth. He is having a conversation with a woman of similar age and it seems like the scenes of explosions are illustrations to his thoughts. The woman is reading aloud from a newspaper about the threat of nuclear war and the total annihilation of earth and its inhabitants. She is then asking the man, named Tim, what his position on the issue is and the remaining panels describe his reaction (thoughts and spoken words) to this question. The newspaper panel therefore seems to fit as the start panel of the comic. Perhaps we have already discovered clickable objects but we refrain from using them at this time and instead try to utilize the panels we already have. The first panel however includes a pair of mouse roll-over triggered thought bubbles that may help us to understand Tim’s forthcoming reaction.

Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
This guy’s brother has apparently made quite an impression on the woman. And, yes, she can find an even less engaging article.

Tim’s sphere of interest is apparently of a more sublime nature and certainly not of the mundane kind that the woman is expressing. This matches his contemplations in the remaining panels. The simultaneous deaths from a nuclear holocaust seems fair, he muses, although the destruction of cultural artefacts is a regrettable loss. We try a number of different arrangements and eventually arrive at the comic below.

Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
Some twisted thoughts but also some empathy on display, Tim is clearly no narcissist.

The initial, somehow sympathetic, musings quickly deteriorate to the completely alien view that the incineration of the world would be mankind’s final and ultimate work of art. A work of art so spectacular that it justifies all losses. The greatest show ever! For whom to behold, we may ask? An eccentric and extraordinary view of the world, but is it the view of a narcissist? Perhaps, but certainly not the defining view. We hit the publish button which confirms our suspicion.

Let’s see then how we can modify the panels by clicking. It’s almost impossible to miss that the earth is clickable. A click restores the exploded earth to a glimmering sphere in the caring hands of mother earth (or an all caring humanity). Nothing else changes and as the new picture seems to be at odds with the rest of the story, we click again – and this time to blow it up. Another conspicuous object is the newspaper. The whole comic story revolves about the newspaper excerpt, much like the radio message in the Egocentric level. We click it and find that their purposes and mechanisms are identical. Not only do the newspaper and the read excerpt change, but so do all the succeeding panels. Tim has had a change of hairstyle and clothes but otherwise looks the same. Did we move in time, just like we did when we switched radio channels? No, the woman now addresses him by another name, Tor. Aha, this must be the environmentally conscious brother that Tim failed to live up to! Fittingly the panel with the exploded earth has changed to the peaceful version. The panel with the exploded statue has drastically changed to a more emotionally loaded graveyard scene.

Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
Just one tiny drop in the ocean of humanity. No! A Narcissist holds oceans in his hands.

But an environmentally conscious person seems like an unlikely choice for a narcissist, doesn’t he? Well, if we glance over all the panels, we’ll find that his thoughts, if not his talk, do display clear cut signs of self importance. The current order of panels does not really make for a coherent read but the newspaper panel again seems like the most fitting place to start. The discussed topic this time is environment friendly funerals… What kind of funeral does Tor has in mind for his own burial? If Tor really is a narcissist, his death is unimaginable but, if indeed inevitable, his funeral should be spectacularly eye catching. It should also be accompanied by sacrifices in the Egyptian – or perhaps the Aztecan – tradition and for the sad remains of humanity there will be a national mourning day.

Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
Mr. Nyren, have you ever given your own funeral any thoughts?
Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
Universal mourning day?

Alright, you should now be able to figure out the rest even without the support of the remaining panels, shouldn’t you? But let’s take a closer look anyhow. Indeed, he is pondering the merits of atomic annihilation just like his brother was. We arrange the panels so that his line of thoughts becomes very clear. The talk of collective cremation with a global take on the environment is simply an euphemism for total annihilation and we need to click the earth to get the true depiction of his actual thought.

Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
One push on the THE BUTTON will do. Five times is overkill.

We hit the publish button but there is apparently still some work left undone. What about the graveyard scene? A glaring mistake should stare us in the face. The inscription on the stone is all wrong. Obviously the selfish Tor wastes no tears on the bad replica that is his twin brother. We click the inscription and it changes appropriately. But there is still room for improvement. The couple walking by in the background seems to be miserable. It would be much more upsetting if they “were laughing and having a good time” as Tor puts it in the preceding panel. We try to click on the couple but nothing happens. Well, there is actually another thought bubble that specifically alludes to the graveyard scene: “songbirds in particular should die”! This game rewards watchful reading and you should have noticed that there is a dead songbird in the very foreground of the graveyard scene. We click it and the scene changes to a sunny day with a happy couple and a cheerful songbird sitting on the top of the grave itself. The somewhat peculiar malevolence against songbirds in particular is explained!

Strip em all - The Narcissist by Daniel Ahlgren
From emotionally loaded to emotionally explosive.