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Trail: videogames



see also: MyCompleteResume
I think older videogames have been lonely “by default”. If you look at a video game history that starts with Pong (as opposed to one that starts with painting, literature, theater, architecture, or perhaps interactive fiction), you’re dealing with objects that are first and foremost systems. Systems that were not designed to express something. Any narrative connotations (such as loneliness) are side effects. Up to this day, game narrative is still very often a sort of dressing up of such systems. We invent stories that can justify certain game mechanics and structures. We rarely invent mechanics and structures to express a story we want to tell.

So the construction of these games being “lonely” or having any other narrative significance is a creative act by the player. Not unlike playing with dolls or pointing your finger at things and saying “bang bang”. The stories are created in the head of the spectator. They are not what drives the games.

In Bientôt l’été, the characters want to be your avatars. But since they also live in cyberspace, I imagine they are actually living creatures of some sort and they are only lending you their bodies to navigate the virtual world. So perhaps they are turning away from you because they are ashamed. Or maybe they don’t want to confront you with the fact that they are living creatures, like you, so as not to ruin your illusions. Of course the fact that they do this simple calls attention to it and might make you wonder about them.

It’s not far fetched to see in Bientôt l’été a sort of metaphor for playing videogames.

I don’t see the experience of art the way you do. I don’t think of it as a conversation. And certainly not one between creator and spectator. I think an artist creates an object in an attempt to unlock some secret of the universe, or to open the door to some kind of knowledge. The artist themselves works on instinct, and may not even acquire that knowledge themselves. All they do is build a tool, a gateway. As such, I don’t see art as expressive. Or at least not as expressive of an artist’s ideas and thoughts. An artist, to me, is more like a shaman or a priest or a medium. It is still your job, as a player, as a spectator, to make sense of the work. In my view, art is not a riddle of which the artist knows the solution. You’re on your own! (feeling lonely now? ;-) )

The reason why the loneliness of videogames may be becoming more pronounced might be that there are more creators now who take videogames seriously as a medium, as a way to express content. They often do this be removing the parts that stand in the way of this expression. And in doing so, their work becomes more focused, more clear. And in that clarity, you find loneliness. Perhaps the loneliness that has always been there but was obscured before (by shooting dragons, jumping fiery pits or doing gear puzzles).

For articles, maybe you can browse through the quotes on the notgames Tumblr and see if anything catches your eye:
Here’s links to some of our own writing:
The Frictional and Astronauts blogs often have good articles.

The first Tomb Raider strikes me as a very lonely game. But in a good way. In all the sequels they just added more characters and story and it just made the game worse. That first exploration with Lara Croft of this mysterious world, on your own, was magical. Probably because, being alone perhaps, there was enough space for your mind to wander, which allowed you to really be there.

Back to work,