Growing up, I was always told to go put down my Game Boy, Game Gear, Super Nintendo Controller, go read a book, or go outside. Now, nine out of ten–I didn’t, I would remain diligent and complete my quest; get to level 8 of Super Mario Bros; try another left field strategy for that one cheap-ass boss that just always seems to get the leg up on you. I wasn’t a complete hermit after all. I did read, played outside–with friends, but gaming was my passion.
Tailspin by Christine Wilks tells the story of an old man dealing with tinnitus, a condition that effects an individuals perception to sound. The story also includes his daughter, Karen, and her two grandchildren, who are playing a “dammed annoying game.” When you begin, you see small, whirling circles–going either clockwise or counter–outline the shape of an human ear, more specifically, the inside of the ear. As you move the the arrow to one of the circles, you get a snippet of the story. Repeating this will prompt a blue circle to appear in the middle, allowing you to go deeper into the story, or in this case, the ear.
What’s interesting in this work is a number of things. For instance, as you move from circle to circle, they fade out and become gray. This could symbolize the old man’s hearing is fading, and perhaps those annoying sounds from his grandchildren’s handhelds are becoming even more faint, which upsets him further.
The story itself has no particular order. To elaborate, remember those whirling circle mentioned earlier? Well, there is no specific order of those snippets–you can guide the arrow to the circle of your choosing. Maybe this is how the old man, or grandpa, perceives sound; his ear processes particular sounds at certain times, and throughout the story, this really ticks grandpa off, all he can hear is, again, is that “damned annoying game.” In a sense, this work reminds me of my upbringing–just a little.