Future Nostalgia (A Fictional Review of Bientôt l’été)

bientot

[From a friend who wishes to remain ano­nymous, I re­ceived the ori­ginal ver­sion of the message below, which was picked up using radio ob­ser­vation of sig­nals from outer space. For the reader’s con­venience, I have ren­dered it in con­tem­po­rary English, rather than the early mo­dern English in which it was written.] Archive: Des­bares­des belt > Giraud γ > Orbit of Giraud γ 3 > Wreck­age of Sigil, or­bital torus space sta­tion File: Ano­nymous jour­nal entry, text­ual, untitled, dated 2321/12/16 Descrip­tion: This log entry, re­trieved during the sal­vage of Sigil station in 2456, appears to be an assess­ment of a par­ticular type of inter­active expe­rience avail­able to users of the station at the time through use of holo­communi­cation trans­mitters. Rem­nants of the soft­ware which is referred to in the entry have been found in the data logs of Sigil station, and various other stations through­out the galaxy; see > T. Beach Proj­ector. […Read more…]

Time for a Story (On Papers, Please and Gone Home)

papersplease

Two recent indie release (Papers, Please and Gone Home) inspired me enough to pen a little ar­ticle last week. Today the piece found a home on The Onto­logical Geek. In the ar­ticle, I ex­plore how Papers, Please simu­lates the way in which bureau­cracies can force us to treat people like cattle, like num­bers, like items on a list. Through in­si­dious sys­tems the player — in­ha­biting the mind of a bor­der offi­cial — is forced to spend as little time on immi­grants as possi­ble, while still follow­ing all the rules im­posed by your govern­ment. I contrast this to the ex­peri­ence of Gone Home, where we can take all the time we want to dig into the per­sonal lives of an American family, and ex­peri­ence their tou­ching stories. […Read more…]

The Iterations of Punxsutawney Phil

bill

Remember Groundhog Day? It’s that 1993 film about Bill Murray’s char­acter, Phil, who keeps reliving the same day, February 2nd, in the Penn­sylvania town of Punx­sutawney, where on that day, the groundhog Punx­sutawney Phil will predict when winter’s going to end. […] It’s an awful lot like the way we tend to play video games these days. Faced with challenges in a game, we have the quick­save and quick­load buttons close at hand, ready to revert to an earlier point in the game to try again. If you get to replay a section of a story over and over again, any challenge inherent in the original situation quickly morphs into a matter of trial and error. Like Phil in Groundhog Day, we get to try out every inter­action, every conver­sation option the world allows us. More im­por­tantly, in a typical collap­sing together of char­acter and player, Phil – like us – retains (meta)­knowledge of every­thing he did earlier. […Read more…]

Walking The Path

The start screen in 'The Path'.

Through the years I’ve had so many reasons to ignore her, always telling me where I could and couldn’t go… – I was follow­ing a pretty bird, and I got lost. I wanted to go for a walk by the lake. I wanted to pick some flowers that only grow in the forest. I was secretly meeting a boy. I wanted to check out the creepy grave­yard. I needed to get away for a while. Be­sides, the real reason she doesn’t want me to stray is be­cause she doesn’t want me to grow up and make my own de­cisions and not listen to her all the time. That’s why I went off the path and into the for­est. It’s made me who I am. […Read more…]

FATALE & the History of Salomé

FATALE-herodiaswatchesoversalome

This is the third time I’m wri­ting about a digi­tal work by Fle­mish duo Tale of Tales, and that alone says some­thing about the capa­city of their releases to in­spire dis­cussion. I started with the peaceful MMO The End­less Forest, and also did a short bit on The Grave­yard. Conti­nuing the chrono­logical trend would leave The Path as my next sub­ject – argu­ably their best and most game-like work – but writing about that fasci­nating psycho­logical horror piece still seems rather daun­ting. Instead, I’m stick­ing to the slightly more manage­able FATALE and explo­ring a bit of what it has to say about the figure of Salomé and how she’s been treated through­out history. […Read more…]