Home Tech Play this 2024 review now: Eccentricity is the point

Play this 2024 review now: Eccentricity is the point

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Play this 2024 review now: Eccentricity is the point

VIdeo gaming conventions are often bustling affairs, as thousands of visitors queue under a constellation of screens for the chance to play one of the hundreds of as-yet-unreleased titles on display.

Now in its tenth year, Somerset House Now play this It is to mainstream exhibitions what folk festivals are to raves. None of the experimental games featured here are intended to be advertised on the sides of buses, especially since many are one-off games that use custom-made controllers (a weave of thick ropes and copper bands, or an old suitcase lined with speakers ) connected to laptops through a tangle of umbilical cables. Few of these games also don’t adhere to the conventional rules or fashions seen in mainstream video game design. They may not have a “win state” or provide an “open play” toolkit with which visitors can create their own rules. The eccentricity is the point. Have you played those other games, the program suggests: now play this.

This year’s liminality theme is fashionably chosen. Liminal spaces (places that exist on the threshold between two states) have become a popular hashtag on social media, even if it is a term that generally applies to a general vibe rather than any anthropological criteria. Existing between the real and the imagined, video games are arguably all liminal spaces, but these exhibits go beyond a mere shared aesthetic. In the words of artistic director María Luján Oulton, they aim to provide space for “activism, creation and reconfiguration of the world.” In Beyond the gardenFor example, artist Laura Palavecino revisits a forest rich in fauna where she spent her childhood on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. The work is a melancholic recreation of a lost world. “Today,” she writes, “it is difficult to see any of these animals that once flew and jumped around us.”

Concessions have been made to facilitate the entry of newcomers. In the first room you find protective board, in which you hop on a real skateboard and lean left and right to control your avatar, who navigates through a glitching cyberspace on the big projector screen in front of you. Major game publishers explored precisely this type of interface at the height of the Nintendo Wii’s popularity, making it a recognizable and comforting entry point.

So it is too The edge of the world by Natalie Maximova, a video work (not all exhibitions are strictly interactive) based on the exploration of the limits of the commercial video game Cyberpunk 2077, where the virtual world flattens and dissipates. It is a machinima, one of several pieces that remix or reinvent existing works. Serafín Álvarez 2014 Maze walkthrough provides another striking example, with its endless labyrinth of interconnected hallways, each recreated from science fiction films such as forbidden planet, Event horizon and ender’s game.

Low fidelity rules… a young visitor plays hopscotch. Photography: Ben Peter Catchpole

Some of this year’s exhibits are culturally familiar. Hopscotch, possibly the most lo-fi exhibit, has been taped to the floor of a hallway, a reference to how, during lockdown, our homes became the stage on which a transition between two social phases unfolded. . Andrew Sheerin Memory game for forgetting/Memory game for remembering is essentially the card game Concentration, except the images on the backs of the oversized cards are satellite images of conflict zones in the Middle East. Less known is that of Martín Bonadeo and Oliverio Duhalde. Astro.Log.IOin which you provide your initials, the date, time and place of your birth, then crouch in a tent to listen to “the sonification of your natal sky” – a haunting return to the celestial context of your own starting point.

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The ‘heavenly’ Astro.Log.IO. Photography: Ben Peter Catchpole

Visitors expecting a glimpse of the latest blockbusters or escape room-style puzzles will be left dissatisfied. Now play this answers the question: what if geeks went to art school? As befits an event about interactivity, the festival rewards those who participate rather than simply observe. And as the giants of video game publishing continue to narrow the field of what video games can be, each release seems to be an attempt to recreate the success of a fortnite either Obligationshow refreshing to see the breadth and brilliance of what interactive art can be away from the ruthless demands of commerce.

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