Proteus: Between Obscurity and Familiarity

In the Cane and Rinse Podcast no. 107, Tony Atkins, Sean O’Brien, Darren Forman and James Carter discuss Proteus; an ambient audio-visual exploration game developed by Ed Key and David Kanaga.

In particular, the distinctive visual style, the interactive musical element and the intentional lack of challenges and objectives.

  • Distinctive visual style.
  • Interactive Music.
  • Intentional lack of challenges and objectives.

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Blood in the Gutters


Screenshot (38)

Unlike moving image, where action and movement may take place in real time, comic authors are confined to still image. Here, the “perception of ‘reality’ is an act of faith.” It is the individual reader who constructs a reality through only one sense, sight.

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Cannon Fodder

Cannon Fodder

Kimble Justice’s review of the classic 1993 top down shooter Cannon Fodder [link here] developed by Sensible Software noted multiple points on how controversial Cannon Fodder was (and probably still is). The game consists of a “merry band of brothers” fighting enemies in various environments using a wide range of weapons.

Cannon Fodder‘s satirical take on war, insulted and outraged many; as the game sent an acute anti-war message. The cover art consists of a singular poppy; a symbol of remembrance world wide with the words Cannon Fodder (an expendable or exploitable person, group, or thing).


Other examples:

  • The theme song is provocative – a jaunty little tune called “War Has Never Been So Much Fun” [link here]
  • The main menu is a line of men waiting and willing to go into battle with you; behind them is a hill with a few crosses symbolizing the dead. As you continue playing the game and your soldiers die in battle, crosses are added to the hill, to remind the player of the lives lost.
  • During the play, both your soldiers and enemy soldiers can be killed in one hit.
  • The deaths are gruesome, soldiers from both sides bleeding out on the battle field after you shoot them.

This game reminds me of that brutal single player browser game One Chance by Awkward Silence Games in 2010, where you have one chance to save the world in six days. One Chance is a bit overly sentimental, but stirred up quite a lot of discussion online.

Fun Fact: Cannon Fodder was banned in Germany in 1994 [link here]


Play: Games as the Play of Pleasure

Pleasure is commonly understood as a fundamental feeling that is hard to define but that people desire to experience. Of course, pleasures opposites (pain, frustration, despair) are equally important in understanding the play of pleasure in a game.

To observe the rules of the play structure promises much greater pleasure from the game than the gratification of an immediate impulse.” – L.S Vygotsky

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