story by Mike Gas

published on September 15, 2022

On July 5th, 2005, Procedural Arts, a small team comprised of just a game developer and an academic researcher working on in their freetime, published Facade, a game where you interact with two “highly intelligent” digital avatars, a couple named Trip and Grace. The game's scenario goes like this: The couple’s marriage is on the verge of collapse, and you’re the lucky person who has to fix it.

Screenshot of Facade. Sourced from

If I had to explain Facade to someone who's never played a game before, I would describe it as a “Choose Your Own Adventure" book, if its main mode of interaction was writing your own dialogue instead of picking between which page to turn to. In Facade, the characters react accordingly, or are supposed to react accordingly to what you say. Through the dialogue you input, you can try to diffuse the argument that erupts in front of you, or aggravate it even further. Depending on what your character says, who’s side you take in the argument, or even how much you hug or touch someone, it can all have an effect on the game’s ending. By the end of the game, you’ll either watch the couple break up, mend the strife in their marriage, or do something in-between.

Facade was an extremely dynamic experience for its time, hell, even by today's standards. The game’s narrative can split off in multiple directions at multiple points, and has a massive scale for something made by only two people in their freetime on a shoe-string budget. Facade is one of those pillars that provided a window into what games and interactive ficiton could look like in the future.

For those who cannot read, just these three videos alone have a combined total of 17.3 million views, that's roughly the entire population of Gautemala, and that's not counting the countless other people who posted themselves playing this game on the Internet.

Its viral explosion proved that people were eager for narrative experiences similar to Facade, something with the same amount of dynacism and immersion, something that gave you the feeling that you were actually in the skin of the protagonist, directly interacting with the characters in front of you as if they were real human beings with real human emotions.