Monday, 21 June 2010
A friend of mine posted a link to the flash game Loved on Facebook (yes, I'm still there). I've been playing it for the past 20 minutes and it has left me more than a little shaken up.
The storyline behind this 2D platform game is left entirely to your own imagination, but the game feeds your imagination very well. Like Closure, which I wrote about a while ago, it is in black and white and features very creepy ambient music. Text appears throughout the game as though some disembodied voice were speaking to you. The 'voice' appears to give you choices - for example, regarding your gender and your emotions - but your decisions turn out to be of no consequence. Psychological tricks such as this remind you that no matter what actions you carry out within the game, you are entirely under the control of the voice.
From the beginning, the voice issues commands. At first, I found myself intuitively following them, because I automatically trust the instructions given to me by a video game. But later I started to question that trust, and I disobeyed the voice. This led to interesting results. The game plays on the strange feeling you get when the playing a game with a broken graphics card by transforming parts of the black and white game world into coloured pixels. At first I enjoyed this effect and disobeyed more. It felt strangely empowering to continue disobeying even as the voice called me 'disappointing' and 'disgusting.' But I soon found that the pretty coloured squares had completely covered the platforms and it was hard to see where I was going. The whole thing reminded me of the super-trippy 'Fission Mailed' level of Metal Gear Solid 2, where your commander, also a disembodied voice (heard by the protagonist through an earpiece) tells you to "stop playing the game."
I got to the end of the game none the wiser about the storyline, but feeling as though I had just finished reading a novel. I feel like some message or feeling was communicated through the experience of playing the game, but I can't put my finger on exactly what it might be. Nevertheless, whenever I go back and play again I can't resist disobeying the voice. I quite like that sense that you should never allow people to manipulate you (or disembodied voices for that matter), even if by disobeying them you make your path more difficult.