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Dreams of Your Life
Posted On 6/25/2012
Dreams of Your Life is not so much a game as a sort of conversational meditation on the subject of life, death, and love. Writing this, I realize how dreary it sounds; but actually, it's quite effective.
It's a project tied to a documentary film, Dreams of A Life; in this it is not unique. But unlike most games tied to documentaries, it does not in any fashion try to replicate the experience of the documentary itself. It does, at times, refer to the documentary's subject, never talking about the film itself; the subject is what happened to Joyce Vincent, a woman who died in a flat in London in 2003, in her 30s, with her television on. She was not discovered for three years.
The interactive narrative is in the form of a conversation -- sort of. Mostly, it involves clicking through a series of frames, with an image subtly changing with each click, and text appearing on the screen. Occasionally, you're asked a question, with dialog choice offered; and occasionally, you're asked to input text. Dialog choices do not result in different endings, but do modestly affect the flow over the short term. For instance, I said that I was playing from work, and was chided for doing so. (Never mind that I was at work on a Sunday, and as a game designer, playing games is part of my bloody job.)
A priori, you'd think this structure, too, would be otiose; click click click and the occasional narrative choice. What makes it fly is the writing. It draws you in; and the questions posed make you think. By the end, you feel as if you have experienced a form of art; it feels like poetry, though it is not, and like the best poetry, it expresses something meaningful about the human condition.
Dreams of Your Life is not likely to change your life; but that it has the remotest chance of doing so, despite its simplicity of structure and odd subject, makes it an important work.
By the way, my Dad died on Thursday. The Times obit is here. This is not a non sequitur, and no condolences are required. Or desired.