How to Think About These Five Games (SoundSelf, ROFLpillar, Nidhogg, Luxuria Superbia, Perfect Woman)
You’re a spaceship captain. You’re in the hyper vortex (again, ugh). It’s very dangerous. You have to sound your way out. But the microphone doesn’t work very well in your spaceship. You’re straining your voice a little, you’re trying to make yourself understood to the navigation system. The rest of the ship’s crew is standing around your shoulder while you’re sitting there. You’ve got the navigation headset on, and the navigation headphones on, and you’re clutching the navigation microphone to your chin, but you can still feel them there. You can almost taste the sweat of the previous spaceship captain who took this ship out into the hyper vortex. He or she must have made it out alive, you can too. You wish your crew would back the hell off. You make the sounds. The vortex replies. You’re finding your way, you’re sounding it out. Why won’t they just back off? Honestly.
Okay, look, it’s a metaphor alright? For crying out loud, stop laughing. I mean, seriously, get it together. So it’s like this. We’re talking about the Cold War, okay? I mean, it’s a little transparent, but the physicality is what pushes it over the edge, right? Don’t laugh. Could you stop just freely pressing The Button? You’re kind of spoiling it. Could you at least try to go for detente instead of writhing like an idiot? I mean, this is kind of embarrassing for you, isn’t it? Don’t you feel a bit embarrassed? Is this seriously how you would conduct the Cold War of Your Dreams? Well fine, whatever. Go for it, I don’t care.
The real meaning here is hidden. This is a game much more about what you’re fighting for than the fighting. Yes you can throw your sword or swashbuckle or run and jump dramatically, yes, yes, sure. But also no. Because this game takes place in the mind of a four-year-old child dreaming on a beach in Malta. That’s the setting. And his eyes are moving back and forth beneath his eyelids, rapidly, like duelling swords. Back and forth. And he’s excited about where this might go. But he also knows that when it’s over he has to go home to the orphanage. He calls it the Big Worm, he calls it Being Eaten By the Big Worm. So don’t stop. Find balance. Throw away your swords. Stay.
You are being born, charging down the tunnel toward life, toward the things of life, toward the bright white glare that is: life. But you’re not necessarily in a hurry. You can hurry if you want to, life is there, waiting. But you can also dawdle, you can roll about and think and just be. You can predict the kind of life you’ll have, your little house, your flower garden and its bees. I mean, in terms of the frame of the game, you don’t know about this things yet AS A BABY, of course. But as the person playing this game you think of the poignance of being born, of the hidden difficulties of home ownership. You shake your head, sad, feeling a melancholy reluctance to finish, to be born, to live.
You’re not actually a woman. You’re actually a sprite. You’re not a woodland sprite or anything, I mean that you’re an animation in a computer system. You don’t have a life, you’re not actually living a life, you’re not really a professor from MIT giving a TED talk. None of this is real. But it also is real, inside the computer system. This is what it feels like to be an object in a video game, manipulated, trying to live up to your animation frames, constantly exhausted, falling behind, in danger of being fired, deleted, garbage collected. This is going on cycle after cycle in your computer right now. The characters on your screen, the animated GIFs, the internet. It’s all a terrible struggle to be reach perfection for you, to be just so. This game is that game. It’s not a game, it’s the sad reality for circuits and registers and pixels and MP3s. Can you feel it?