I decided to try out the side-scrolling browser game “Every Day the Same Dream” on molleindustria.org. The game takes on the topic of routine and the dismays of white-collar conformity. You play as a faceless man in a world where virtually everything is a shade of gray, and use the left and right arrows to navigate through the rituals of the work day, using the space bar to react with the various people and things that you run into. You start off in your bed, where you must put on a suit, and your wife warns you that you’ll be late for work as you leave the house. You take an elevator to get to your car, in which an old lady informs you, “Five more steps and you will be a new person.” You continue through traffic to your office building, get scolded by your boss, and sit in your cubicle until the day ends, and you play again from the beginning.
Through some experimentation, I realized that the “five steps” that the old lady in the elevator is referring to are actions that break from the routine, which were quite challenging for me to discover. They include going to work without getting dressed, catching a leaf as it falls off of a tree, and walking to work instead of taking your car.
Once all five “steps” are taken, the game ends in the protagonist waking up to an empty house, driving to work on an empty road, and arriving at an empty office. You walk past the cubicles onto the roof, where you see yourself (well, I assumed that it was the protagonist, it may have been someone else since all of the office employees look identical) standing on a ledge. You then watch as your own self jumps off, and presumably dies. The game abruptly ends there.
The creators of this games are making a statement on the dangers of routine. They depict a man whose life is without color, and is constantly being yelled at by his boss and wife. He has consequently become voiceless–the main character doesn’t utter a word in the entirety of the game. This seems to be implying that routine and conformity cause a person to lose any say in what goes on in his or her life. As I was playing the game, I felt myself automatically navigating through each setting, and began to feel bored and frustrated with the repetition. In the end, what I believe the designers are saying is that one can only be saved from routine by breaking the rules and doing things that are not automatic and expected. However, the fact that the game ended in a suicide conveys a terribly hopeless meaning–I wonder if they’re implying that there really is no escape. All in all, this was a fun little game that I’d definitely recommend!