On ‘i made this. you play this. we are enemies.’

I think Nelson is a pretty weird guy. Out of the four games I played ‘I made this. You play this. We are enemies’ the most extensively. I found the experience a little bit depressing and fruitless. I know that the purpose of Nelson’s game was for it to act as a piece of media-art, so I tried to appreciate it in that way- but I found the experience not enjoyable. Nelson stated that the game includes “scribbles and ideas from the back of my brain, way-way back in the storage room for contextual whims.”

I guess that was Nelson’s point though – one of them at least. The very title of the game suggests that there will be conflict between the player of the game and the developer of the game. After I played through the first time and went back to the home screen I noticed a button in the upper left corner labeled “game?” I placed my cursor over the button and a kind of artist statement dropped down. It included the following: “There is a conflict, an Appalachian-style battle between the game-maker and the player, the artist and those wanky enough to like art, the poet and those who sing-song themselves through bittery selfish sexual what-nots.” So that much is clear- Nelson purposefully made this game frustrating.

I understand this whole idea- Nelson wants to explore the relationship between the developer and the player. However, this annoys me. Nelson wants us to explore his ideas, his poetry, the imagery he created in the game- and then he makes the player struggle for it? He purposefully makes the experience frustrating? How conceited is that? Why does he think he is so special that would make anyone want to struggle to understand the inner workings of his brain?

Oh, I’m sorry. We aren’t supposed to understand. As Nelson says, “figuring out is for control centered hedonists and sharks with bees for hair, such fast stinging chomping machines.” So, how am I supposed to take anything from this game? Nelson’s game is clearly trying to be an art piece, and using Professor Sample’s suggestion for a definition of art – something that changes/affects you in some way that you have not experienced before – how can this game succeed?

Let me get this straight. Play the game. Struggle against the developer to get some sort of meaning out of the experience. Don’t try and understand the meaning. Sweet game.

2 thoughts on “On ‘i made this. you play this. we are enemies.’

  1. Professor Sample

    You touched on a really important question: why make the player work for understanding? It’s a frequent theme in art and literature—the creation of material that is almost antagonistic toward the viewer or reader.

    Why make something purposefully difficult to understand or even absolutely impossible to understand? And then why say you’re not supposed to understand it anyway? At least in Nelson’s case, I want to suggest that he’s being disingenuous, and that in fact (1) he does want you to understand what he’s doing and that (2) he’s teasing when he says he doesn’t.

  2. ijohnson

    Is it possible that the struggle is the point? Not that Nelson wants you to struggle to get what he’s trying to do, but that he wants you to just struggle in general, to flail around at meanings in this bizarre aesthetic space?

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