Ritual, Addiction, and Coffee-themed Horror

Making our morning cup of coffee is, for many of us, ritualistic; it's a pattern we often choose not to end, whether because we are unwilling or unable to. Morning Rituals, our new text-based horror game, explores what might happen if we don't break free from that--or the consequences of succeeding. It's available to buy now at itch.io for just $1.33.

A 20-minute game built in Twine, complete with some visuals and a 3-song original soundtrack, Morning Rituals is about the our relationship with coffee, work, and life--represented by an unnecessarily complex touch-screen coffee maker possessed by demonic forces. It's an exploration of ritual and addiction, the demands of technology, and the balance of work and life.

"The idea came when Devin, our composer, actually won a touch-screen Keurig as a door prize," says Lucas J.W. Johnson, the creator of Morning Rituals. "We were flabbergasted--why does a coffee maker need a touch screen?--and joked around for a while about the kind of GlaDOS-like personality it must have. And the game concept was born."

Going beyond that original concept, Morning Rituals explores both the ritual-like relationship many of us have with coffee and with making coffee, as well as the physical and social addictions we have to it. Every movement in making a cup of coffee becomes a pattern, a ritual (open lid, dispose of last coffee waste, insert new coffee, close lid, set preferences, brew coffee, drink, repeat), and the game explores how much we are bound to those rituals--and what happens if we try to stop.

The game was originally commissioned by the Interactive Fiction Fund, and released to its backers at the end of May. It's now seeing a wider release through itch.io.

You can get the game at http://silverstring.itch.io/morningrituals