This Recession, This Depression, and the working Life

Post Two – Week Two: Writing 200

Every Day a Different Dream

I know that I promised last week I would broaden out, and play different games; expand my reach and try new things.  So commenting on the differences and similarities with a complex and a simple game, an older one and a newer one, and having my second post be about a game we played in class seems cheap.

If time permits, I will be sure to try at least two to three games, and hopefully write a third and/or fourth post for this week, if not early next week (Saturday or Sunday this weekend).

That said, the game we played in class had enough implications to both modern life and society, and to my own life / thoughts that I felt it warranted a post.

For those who have not played, for some context, Every Day the Same Dream is a game where the character must wear the same clothes and complete the same movements and motions every day until one slight change causes a change in the outcomes of the various things he does every day (getting dressed, kissing his wife, going to work, etc.)

Danielle proposed a question in class that asked if this game was about some sort of positivity, showing what we DO have and to be grateful for it, appreciate and be appreciative in general, OR a negative-facing game that proved all of the bland, boring realities of a daily life rooted in working class America.

Perhaps the game begged my attention for this post because it involves issues that face all of us today: marriage, relationships, charity, the environment (or an environment we are living in), the economic situation we are in, and the status quo of an ever-changing non status-quo. 

For those that know me at all, they know that these themes and those that this game explores define my daily conversation. (Though this game does so in a terrible manner, more to come.)

The game in and of itself is like a solid B- Bruce Springsteen song.  It gets at the very essence of bland and blunt life, points to several components (work, the drive in, traffic, the economy, depression, etc.) but does so many things at once, in too bland a manner it may fail to convey its message.

How so?

The game does a nice job at sleek lines, clean images, and distinct colors.  For example, the black suit could have been blue and pinstriped, which may have made it more interesting and exciting, but would not have conveyed the same ‘boring’ message.  In terms of narrative mechanics, two arrow keys and the same suit (or lack thereof), along with the space bar are a simple and boring life – well done here.

The best choices are the lines and colors (as shown above), the basic mechanics and mechanisms (note the difference here), and the fact that there are several components before the game ends (going through the motions once would be so boring I wouldn’t bother playing again, unless I had been told that there was a different ending.)

The worst parts, however, are that perhaps it IS a bit too boring.  I understand conveying boredom and bland life, but losing a player or viewers’ attention should be viewed on a rating scale (from a designer / writer’s perspective scale) as more important than conveying an internal message.  An example, to go back to my last post, would be making a Monopoly video game.  Music and colors may be added (though it is already fairly vibrant and colorful), but music and effects MUST be added, in addition to mechanics, to prove the essence of Monopoly.  I may design a Monopoly-style game, recession style, and make it more bland (tying these two games together), but ensuring that I better captivate viewers and players’ interest.

I understand being bland, but do not value the moral choice there over captivation as perspective. 

    • snbrown said:

      I agree that the game was very bland, almost too bland to the point that my attention was almost lost. However, the game did create a sense of suspense and curiosity. There was suspense in walking off the screen and walking back onto the screen in a completely different place, but not knowing exactly where you would end up. There was curiosity in the sense that people were curious to know the effects of their actions if they were to do something outside of the norm. For example, our character woke up every morning, put on a suit and went to work. People were curious to know what would happen if they made the decision not to put on a suit every morning and go to work. These aspects of suspense and curiosity keep a game interesting. This game probably would have bored a young child. They would more than likely find themselves unamused in the first couple of minutes with the game’s lack of color, souond, and action. Children enjoy games that take them away from their own everyday routines. College students, on the other hand, would have more tolerance when it comes to playing the game because they do not necessarily crave vibrant colors and an extreme amount of sound.

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