“Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. He knows too that the worth or merit of a game is not inherent in the game itself but rather in the value of that which is put at hazard. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory are in themselves sufficient stake because they inhere in the worth of the principals and define them. But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.” — Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
I like games and puzzles. But I’ve never really been a video game fan, per se. Give me a late-night, urban capture the flag tournament, a willing cat’s cradle partner or an Oblique Strategies deck, please. But, recently, I have stumbled across a triad of web games that genuinely appeal to me.
The first is Paolo Pedercini’s Every day the same dream, an existential puzzle that proffers a chilling finale to those willing to unravel an everyday routine. According to Pedercini: “Every day the same dream is a slightly existential riff on the theme of alienation and refusal of labor. The idea was to charge the cyclic nature of most video games with some kind of meaning (i.e. the ‘play again’ is not a game over). Yes, there is an end state, you can ‘beat’ the game.”
Playing Every day the same dream reminded me of a quote from Raoul Vaneigem’s The Revolution Of Everyday Life: “People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.”
The second web game I discovered is less cerebral. Ferim Halik’s The Crossing is Bambi-meets-Pong, bittersweet and soothingly monotonous.
And last, but certainly not least, is Auriea Harvey and Michaël Samyn’s The Graveyard. Trial versions of this game (for Mac and PC) invite the player into a heartbreakingly beautiful, plodding meditation on life and death, but one must purchase the game to allow for the possibility of death.
As Guy Debord wrote, “Boredom is always counter-revolutionary. Always.”
So, play. Your inner children will thank you when they’re older.