‘One Chance’

‘One Chance’ is barely a game, despite its familiar 8-bit style. There are only two controls: the arrow keys to move and the space bar as an action button. There is little else involved in the gameplay besides walking, watching scenes take place, and making your choice. An average person will likely complete the game within 10 minutes. However, it does do one thing very unique to interactive media in general

Your choices are permanent.

Simply reloading the website will direct you back to where you are in the game, or to the final scene of the game after completion. Even opening it on a different tab or browser will result in the same thing (apparently the game keeps track of IP addresses).

The plot of the game itself is simple, and fits the format this game chooses to follow. Following the prompt of having ‘six days before every living cell on planet Earth dies’, you begin play as a scientist, Ron Pilgrim, who has just created a cure for cancer that directly destroys the cells involved. Every day, you are given the option to either go to work, or do any other activity prompts the game provides you (anything from staying home to having an affair with a co-worker). The next day, your work place realizes the cure is a bust: it destroys -all- living cells it comes into contact with, and its use could lead to catastrophic consequences. The ‘cure’ is inevitably released, and within the next 3-4 days life on Earth comes to a fast end, and your family and coworkers gradually die off. At the end of the game, the prompt ‘You have one chance’ turns to ‘You had one chance’, and the character is reduced to a sickly crawl, able to make their final option before the ending.

I managed to get what was likely the best ending by simply choosing to go to work at the lab every day, concocting a cure to save what was left of the world. The last image I got was an inviting, green park, which is shown every time I reload the game. Perhaps a practical way to try to save the world, but considering that the game does give you only one opportunity, I doubt many other people would have done that given the myriad other options offered to the player.

The concept of introducing that sort of permanence to a player’s actions is definitely rare, if not entirely non-existent. Even games with ‘hardcore’ (permanent character death) options will allow you to make a new character afterwards. Though it is a bit of a gimmick, especially for an otherwise short flash game, I still enjoyed it as a compelling diversion, and the concept of consequence was something very unique to the format of the flash game (and arguably video games in general).





At first, I thought that Strings was a boring piece of kinetic typography, and in some ways it is. “youandme,” and both “flirt” pieces are rather unimaginative in their usage of kinetics, but others I found much more interesting, such as “arms” and “poidog.” The reason I think “arms” is better than “youandme” is not a difference quantified in the addition of five letters, it’s a matter of shape and movement. “youandme” doesn’t take and risks and just has the two words zoning around the screen. I understand that the point of the piece was personifying the two parties, showing that “me” if trying to get close to “you” and is whizzing all over the place to do so, but fails. “you” is more shy and slow moving and unresponsive. That’s all fine and dandy, he achieved his goal of making me think of an arrangement of letter in terms of a story, but I felt nothing as a experienced it, which to me says that he failed in to larger picture.

“arms” succeeded as a piece of kinetic typography because it made me feel something in the absence of more complex words. “youandme” set the stage for this piece and set the expectation of what he would do with the starting “your,” but then took it a different direction and abandoned the use of words at all in favor of shapes. “your” turns into “arms” and then arms turns into a circle that moves and shifts, which is much more evocative than the wibbly-wobbly blandness of “youandme.” That circle turns into “me,” and the experience of the piece evokes a positive feeling of comfort without every using the words embrace, comfort, or home. Yet those are the thoughts and feelings I had, while in “youandme” I had to search and create some small semblance of meaning.

As for “poidog,” I’m not really sure what the significance of the title is, but I thought the interconnection of the words make his statement that “words are like strings that push & pull out of my mouth” more meaningful that my typed up, unmoving transcription. By making the words appear one at a time, it forces me to consider the mean of each one a lot more than I would reading it in fast sequence. This is a much more pulled together idea than “haha,” which also makes the viewer think about sound in a different way.

Accessible, retrievable, immediate

“But when we turn on our computer and start up our Web browser, all the world’s resources seem to be accessible, retrievable, immediate” (Murray 84).

Accessible, retrievable, immediate. It is the mantra of our new technology, and it is becoming more and more realized every day. In the chapter “From Additive to Expressive Form,” Janet Murray traces briefly the progression of the computer gaming-phenomena. One of the major developments of gaming was the ability of the programmer to create a digital environment in which the gamer is participating in a created world. The better the technology, the more interactive and navigable the worlds became. The “range of possible interactions” allowed for a more successful experience. These were (and are) virtual worlds that are “responsive” (79). What strikes me as fascinating about these worlds is the accessibility, the immediacy, and I would argue retrievability of something which is a result of the interaction between the gamer/game.

When the games first began as text prompts, the gamer had to visualize the space they were navigating in their own minds, using the verbal descriptions and leaving something to their own imaginations. Just like a novel where the reader uses a certain capacity to create a scene, as the narrative progresses, the world of the author’s making grows and expands in the reader’s mind. At another point, Murray discusses the advent of moving pictures and how the audience viewed the first films, supposedly having a difficult time separating their reality from the created reality on the screen. Even in that posture the viewer has a degree of separation between themselves and the action on the screen. Albeit, they are in a passive mode, allowing the film to create mood, build character, and provide information.

What I find somewhat disconcerting as I read Murray’s article, is the concept that as these games become better and better in creating realities, the gamer or the person interacting with the game will be less passive but actually more of an active participant in an unreal world. What happens when the accessible and immediate reality of a game begins to “overwrite” the true sensory reality of a gamer? What is the gamer able to “retrieve” from the game? (And I am not using that in the sense that Murray used it re retrieving information; I am looking at the idea that there is definitely an exchange happening when a person participates in the virtual digital and spatial environment.) What are they getting and how is it affecting the wiring of their own brains? What is the exchange?