Videogames in the fostering age of spectator‑artwork relations, whether by a corporate stable of professionals or the lonely, budgeted indie developer, are biased towards the ‘social’. In the written words of Dr. Henry Jenkins, “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” Such an advent for the destruction of an original location, in favor of ‘everywhere’, makes for the lucrative being of virtual game worlds to critique the mundane spaces these games spread to. It would seem for the boding artist in new media waves that one should embrace interconnectedness, seek viral attitudes, and forego the last morsels of Modernism to be journeyed to. Location for the new media artist has been predetermined as ‘public’. Yet this location does not have to be default. This abstract and presentation theatrically covers an indie game in development which runs on Oculus Rift, a 3D virtual reality one‑on‑one interface, immersing in location(s) physical and virtual that bridge a burgeoning gap between distant continental locales. The title of this game in its second year of development is Story Generating Apparatus, with all models, environments, coding, voice acting, animation, visuals, and much more created by myself with software supplied.
The indie game tackles a brand new gaming interface with one of the most traditional devices known: self‑identity. The narrative of Apparatus is experimental in that I am telling the story of a fictional, ex‑videogame hero on his deathbed. The location of this character’s proverbial tomb is an economically distraught mall in Midwestern America, where the digital exchange of capital has rendered physical perception of location an empty declaration. Not to mention, a romanticized archival of the past has rendered nostalgia a destroyer of location as well. Yet, the memories this character has before becoming deceased are my own personal memories. The game serves as an experiment in just how far a self‑identity work can be taken, even at the expense of the artist’s own ethics or morality. This game values introspective player experience as a gameplay mechanic, rather than the social, mystifying itself from how a game is supposed to openly function in society.
This game follows iOS mobile title In a Permanent Save State, which followed the afterlives of seven real workers in Chinese Foxconn factories who committed suicide manufacturing the very devices the game was played on. In a Permanent Save State was given a lecture about at ISEA2013 in Sydney, Australia.
- Benjamin Poynter, University of Nevada Reno, USA