A man sits at a Chinese restaurant, sitting in front of a telegraph machine enclosed in a wooden box. Carefully placing a pair of battered headphones over his ears, the unknown man uses a cipher key to decipher the message, “Welcome to the city.” This is the scene that greets visitors to Tap Joint, a curious, new narrative experience that plays out almost entirely over the game’s virtual device. As the man’s conversation with his unidentified correspondent continues, visitors learn more about an unfolding narrative that places its participants directly into the story’s distinctive universe.
Through a series of telegraph messages and video clips, site visitors learn that the unidentified correspondent on the other end of the telegraph is a member of an underground movement committed to resisting their city’s government, the Allied Municipal Patrol. The resistance is hard at work assembling Wave Units—single-channel, one-way broadcasting devices. The group’s goal is to assemble 1,000 of Wave Units in time for Illumination Day, an annual holiday taking place on March 9th. The game’s world evokes a distinctly antiquated feel, with old-fashioned technologies like telegraphs and pneumatic tubes carefully housed in wooden assemblies. Visitors see the world from the unknown restaurant-goer’s perspective, operating the man like a puppet, using their computer’s mouse to pull his strings.