Every Day the Same Dream

Made several months ago by Molleindustria, Every Day the Same Dream is a fairly typical as a “short existential game about alienation and refusal of labor. Or, if you prefer, a playable music video”. Every Day the Same Dream is a fine game, although it does have a rather narrow meaning. Where it excels is in the skillful presentation, which allows the player to reach their own conclusion through experiencing the game.

Go play it now:

http://www.molleindustria.org/everydaythesamedream/everydaythesamedream.html

Interesting, right? But again the only thing you can really get out of it (that I can see) is the futility of work, how much life sucks etc. etc. etc. (Not that those are small things, it’s just that I prize games that allow multiple interpretations.) I have only two things to say about Every Day the Same Dream.

Firstly, no matter how simple the game is, the implementation presents core values of existentialism in a five or ten minute play through. The only reason I’m so jaded about the topic matter is that I’ve taken a semester course in existentialism. Without even mentioning things so dry as Sartre and convoluted as Kierkegaard, Molleindustria does everything they did -in five minutes-. Of course that’s up to debate, but the point is that this game succinctly shows what words can’t.

Recently a small independent movie was made based on Every Day. It’s right below:

What I find interesting is that the movie actually does a worse job promoting the concept behind Every Day, than the game did itself. The movie is fine, and it employs fairly high production values, the acting (what there is of it) is good, etc. But the feeling of futility that I got when I played Every Day wasn’t the same as the feeling I got of watching someone go through a futile life. In the original game, I was the one who was forced to live out the dream, every day. I found myself on several days, in game, simply going through the motions that the game required of me, just because I didn’t know what I had to do next.

The movie tried to show the variation from day to day, whether the protagonist turned off his alarm clock, or turned of the TV, but that aspect is never really clear. In game, the realization that No I didn’t have to turn of the TV, No I didn’t have to turn off the alarm clock or talk to my wife was a whole experience within the game itself, which I found to be very satisfying and which the film never really touched. To “beat” Every Day requires an almost zen rethinking of the game world, in a similar manner to Mondo Medical (another day). Every day you step out into your elevator where an old lady tells you “5 more steps  and you will be a new person”.  One of the first alternative options that was apparent to me was the “Exit” at the end of the day. I took this on the first day, unwittingly committing suicide. Black Out. Well that’s it, I thought. Instead: The same old lady, waiting, with the words “4 more steps and you will be a new person” on her lips. The next four steps all involved re-evaluating some basic premise that the initial repetitive days set up. When I first met the homeless man and I broke out of the endless wake up-go to work cycle, I felt free. Note that in this whole discussion it was I who thought and experienced these feelings.

In the movie, I watched someone else feel these things. Certainly movie has its strengths but in this case Every Day the Same Dream was much more powerful as a game. It is this ability to make people experience things themselves that makes games a worthwhile medium.

Additional Article: The link goes to a Gamasutra article that talks about the concept of the fourth wall and how it applies to games. http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/4086/a_circular_wall_reformulating_the_.php?page=1

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~ by prolixpostoffice on June 23, 2010.

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