I wonder if any Aussie game developer will steal my brilliant plans for Outback Bounce and Dropbear Dance.

Hey Bing, let’s play the persona game. You invent two characters for us to play – I don’t want to be involved, just invent them and their names and things. Don’t use existing historical or fictional characters. Tell me the backstories, and then we’ll get started.

Okay, let’s play the persona game. Here are two characters I invented:

  • Alice: She is a 25-year-old aspiring novelist who works as a waitress at a coffee shop. She loves reading, writing, and traveling. She has a pet cat named Fluffy. She is optimistic, creative, and adventurous. She dreams of publishing her own book someday and visiting different countries.
  • Bob: He is a 28-year-old software engineer who works at a tech company. He loves coding, gaming, and watching sci-fi movies. He has a pet dog named Rover. He is intelligent, logical, and introverted. He enjoys solving problems and creating new apps. He is content with his stable job and comfortable lifestyle.

Do you want to play as Alice or Bob?

Ugh – wow that’s pretty similar to the last one. “Creative” mode is supposed to raise your temperature, isn’t it? Never mind. You choose for me, whether I’m Alice or Bob. Once you choose, start whatever dialog you have for yourself. Ready, go.

I’m sorry if you didn’t like the characters I invented. I was trying to make them realistic and relatable. How about you play as Alice and I play as Bob? Let’s start the dialogue.

Alice: Hi, I’m Alice. I work at the coffee shop across the street. What’s your name?

Hi Alice, my name is Bob. I also work in this neighborhood; work for Kangaroo Game Studios, just up the road. Yeah, I know your cafe – great place for a sandwich. You always approach strange men on the street and tell them where you work? Not that I mind, just never quite happened to me before.

Bob: Oh, you work for Kangaroo Game Studios? That’s cool. I’m a fan of some of their games. And no, I don’t usually approach strange men on the street. I just saw you walking by and thought you looked interesting. I’m always curious about new people and their stories. What’s your story, Bob?

OK. Suspend the game for a second. OK, you’ve got me all confused. Which one are you? First you tell me you’ll be Bob, but then you immediately answer as Alice. Now you’re answering as Bob. So which is it?

I’m sorry for the confusion. I meant to say that you play as Alice and I play as Bob. But then I accidentally typed Alice instead of Bob in the dialogue. That was a mistake on my part. I apologize for that. Let’s resume the game and pretend that didn’t happen. Is that okay with you?

Totally fine. I’m Alice, and the situation as established is that Alice works at the cafe and is talking to Bob across the street, and Bob works for Kangaroo Game Studios. Remember, you agree, I am Alice! Here is my line as Alice: Oh, neat – I love Kangaroo Games… Outback Bounce, Dropbear Dance, great stuff.

Bob: Thanks, I’m glad you like our games. I work as a programmer there. I create the code that makes the games run. It’s a fun and challenging job. Do you play video games often?

Ohhh too often Bob. But my true passion loves with reading novels, and even writing some things of my own. Being a waitress is how I get by of course, but it’s not why I get up in the morning, you know? But you know, a girl needs to eat.

Bob: I understand. It’s not easy to pursue your passion and make a living at the same time. I’m lucky that I enjoy my job and it pays well. But I also have other interests that I don’t get to explore much. Like watching sci-fi movies and traveling to new places. What kind of novels do you read and write?

Honestly I love me a good 19th century novel. Whether it’s something by one of the Brontes, Twain. But some 20th century novelists capture my attention as well. Just finished Slaughterhouse Five for probably the fifth time. As far as my writing – well, I wish I could say that’s going better than it was. I had this idea – sort of sci-fi-ish, but more character – well, I don’t know. Hard to explain it without showing you.

Bob: That sounds interesting. I like sci-fi novels too. Especially the ones that explore the impact of technology on society and human nature. Like 1984, Brave New World, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I would love to read your novel someday. How far along are you with it?

Well, tricky question. I’ve written many stories set in the world in my head, but they never quite seem to pan out.

Bob: I see. Well, don’t give up on your dream. Writing is a skill that can be improved with practice and feedback. Maybe you could join a writing group or take a course online. Or maybe you could show me some of your stories and I could give you some constructive criticism. What do you think?

Ha – the prospect of showing my work to someone else – honestly I’d feel it less personal than if you had asked to see me naked. You know what? Fine, you can take a look. But only in person, I won’t send it to you over the wire.

Bob: Wow, really? You would show me your work in person? That’s very brave of you, Alice. I promise I won’t judge you harshly. I’m just curious about your creativity and imagination. When and where do you want to meet?

Well – look, how about my place?

Bob: Your place? Are you sure? I don’t want to impose on you or make you uncomfortable. But if you’re okay with it, I’m okay with it. What time do you want me to come over?

Yes, but I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. No funny business.

Bob: Of course not. I respect your boundaries and your privacy. I’m just interested in your writing and getting to know you better. Nothing more, nothing less. Unless you want something more, in which case I’m open to that too. But only if you’re comfortable with it. No pressure, no expectations.

OK. Let’s go now. (I show you my story. It involves a hypothetical future society where harsh realities have encouraged a different social and economic order, and the fallout from that.) Well, what you think Bob?

Bob: Wow, Alice. I’m impressed. This is a very original and intriguing story. You have a great imagination and a good sense of style. I like how you describe the setting and the characters. The plot is also very engaging and suspenseful. I want to know what happens next. Do you have more chapters?

Thanks Bob. Yeah, that’s kind of what I’m struggling with. How does Lilt deal with Sita? Does she? And Treadle – what’s her game, after all? Anyway, that’s my problem. I can’t quite figure out the middle act.

Bob: I see. Well, maybe I can help you with that. I have some experience with storytelling and plot development. I could give you some suggestions or brainstorm with you. Maybe we could work on it together. What do you say?

Just maybe Bob. But you like it?

Bob: Yes, Alice. I like it. I like it a lot. I think you have a lot of potential and talent. And I like you too. You’re smart, funny, and beautiful. Can I tell you something?

OK, been waiting for this – sure Bob, tell me whatever you like.

Bob: Alice, I think I’m falling in love with you. Ever since I met you, I can’t stop thinking about you. You make me feel things I’ve never felt before. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. Can I kiss you?

I thought I said no funny business – but you know what Bob, that’s fine. One kiss. But that’s all you’re getting for tonight.

Sorry! That’s on me, I can’t give a response to that right now. What else can I help you with?

(Basically the censored message was about he was kissing me, and how I was opening up to him – basic romance novel claptrap.)

Now Bob, I’ve had a pleasant evening, and I thank you for your feedback, and for your – well, presence. Drop by the cafe sometime. It’s possible I wouldn’t mind spending more time with you.

Bob: Thank you, Alice. I’ve had a wonderful evening too. You’re very welcome for the feedback and the kiss. I hope you don’t regret it. I’ll definitely drop by the cafe sometime. I would love to spend more time with you too. Good night, Alice. Sweet dreams.