I've gone back and forth about this year's oddest video game, Lose/Lose. It's like the old arcade game Galaga, only every time you destroy an enemy, the game deletes one of your computer's files—randomly and permanently. If your little ship gets hit, the game deletes itself.
Wild. I'd crown it game of the year. If I had the guts to play it.
[vimeo width="240" height="400"]http://www.vimeo.com/6569275[/vimeo]
This week, indiegames.com interviews creator Zach Gage, and the conversation mostly tackles his artistic intent ("why it is that loss of our data could have such an impact on us?"), along with the issue of virus-protection software damning his game as a Trojan virus. Most of all, I admire his glass-half-full perspective about a game that wreaks havoc on your hard drive:
[It's] the idea that just because there are no defined positive outcomes, you can still come up with a solution for yourself, or you can find a way to learn from a negative situation, and get some positive results. It's not meant to be a negative game. I feel like just discussing it without playing it is a win state.
Yet I still can't bring myself to play it. I'd hate for the game to delete a "system" file that brings my computer to its knees, but there's more to my reluctance. As Gage implies in the interview, the game's random data sacrifices evoke a troubling-yet-detached tangibility; almost as if each swift deletion doesn't just knock out a JPEG or a song but also represents a single life somewhere in the world. Gone, no edit-undo.
This is what I meant when I talked about death having new meaning in modern video games. No painted canvas or film could make you look at death the way a lost Microsoft Word file might, as much for the permanent deletion as for your attachment to a ho-hum computer file. The game is free to download (except for the obvious "price" associated).