Experimental Videogame Consoles That Let You Make One Move a Day
Wired, LIZ STINSON 11.17.14 |
This little cube is a videogame. Mario, to be exact. Clearly, it looks nothing like theMario you and I know. But I assure you, it is in fact a videogame, and you can totally play it. That little button at the top, that’s your controller. And the little white dots, those are both your avatar and the world in which it functions.
This abstract cube is the work of Ishac Bertran, a designer living in New York City. And he’s made more than one. Bertran turned Mario, Tetris and Pong into minimalist game cubes, all of which come with a major disclaimer: Players can only make one move a day.
Appropriately, they’re called Slow Games, and the idea is to transform what is traditionally a fast-moving activity into a contemplative experience. Plenty of videogames are designed to tickle our instant gratification scratch. “This is what allows a game to be really engaging, really immersive,” says Bertran. “When you play a videogame, everything in the room disappears.” Slow Games takes the opposite approach.
Each cube comes with a different controller input. Mario has a push button; the longer you press down, the farther your avatar jumps. Tetris is controlled by rotating the entire cube. Pong uses a toggle switch to dictate where the ball bounces. Once you make your move, it takes a day for it to show up on screen. This languorous process creates a totally new kind of game. Instead of focusing on skills like eye-hand coordination, it challenges our memory and observation, says Bertran.
These aren’t games that you’ll finish in one session. That’s technically impossible. You’ll spend at least a couple weeks on each, and that’s if you don’t die in the process. This delay can be frustrating, especially if you’re looking at the games through the traditional lens of play. You won’t beat a level while you dash from work to home on the Subway, but maybe that’s OK.
You could draw comparisons to technology in a more general sense. More often than not, its purpose is to decrease the friction in our lives. The easier, the faster, the more immediate, the better, right? Not so fast, says Bertran. “We’ve developed this super fast, automated way of interacting with things,” he says. “Technology is almost anticipating what you will do.” This form of interaction is neither a good or bad thing, he adds, but it’s at least something that deserves some reflection. “For me this [Slow Games] is a way to test how we interact with technology that bends the rules a little bit,” he says.