Lifeline: a mobile game to text with an astronaut

Lifeline by 3 Minute Games (iPhone / iPad + iWatch) is a curious mobile game designed to push the boundaries of fiction. What it asks you to do is to simply text with an astronaut stranded on the moon.


The first time you hear from Taylor, a frightened young student who just emerged from an escape pod in an alien desert, the situation is dire. There’s no food, no water, no way off the surface, and only one person in range to talk to: you.

There are no graphics, either; instead, you and Taylor communicate through a long series of what are essentially text messages. Your new friend is scared, alone, and uncertain about what to do next, and quickly starts to ask you for advice. Would it be better set out for that mysterious peak in the distance, or camp out the wreckage of the ship?

Taylor will not only live and die by your advice, but follow through on it in real time. If they say that hiking to a certain destination will take about an hour, guess what: it really will. “I’ll let you know when I get there,” Taylor writes. An away message pops up on the screen that reads Taylor is busy. And then I wait. An hour later in real time, my phone pings again. Taylor has arrived.


The game takes about three days to play if you check in regularly, and what makes it really compelling is how it combines the familiar back and forth of text messaging with the tense passage of time to make your relationship with Taylor—and the impact of your choices—feel surprisingly real.

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