Gravitation

By Jim Rossignol on March 1st, 2008 at 8:03 pm.


The chap who created Passage has another weird game about moods and those other afflictions suffered by human beings. It’s called Gravitation, and has a similar flavour to the melancholy game of life we wrote about last year. Created Jason Rohrer calls it “a video game about mania, melancholia, and the creative process.” I don’t think it quite has the impact of Passage, although it’s not without some poignant ideas. I suggest you see what your own “reading” of this one is.

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17 Comments »

  1. Theory says:

    Seems that the “achievements” you try to gain in life all mean leaving what you really love behind – but that you need the context of home to make them meaningful, and to keep your mind open to the world.

  2. Wroth says:

    Maybe it’s about the struggles of being a parent. Juggling how much time to spend with your child, and how much you should spend on achieving your goals. And over time, you have to deal the your child leaving you. And if you’re too neglectful, you… become short-sighted and can’t jump very high.

    There’s also probably something in there about greed too. If you try to get too many stars at once, they decrease in value and are harder to push into the fire. It’s even impossible if they stack and you can’t jump high enough over them, because you were greedy and spent too much time away from your child.

  3. dhex says:

    i know this makes me a heartless wet blanket, but i thought passage was insultingly insipid.

  4. roBurky says:

    I have trouble connecting the game to the themes Jason says it’s about.

    The main message I get is to never leave the house to explore the world, because your children will get kidnapped.

  5. cHeal says:

    Well it definately seems to point to family as a stabilising factor in a persons life and that the worth and feelings associated purely with great achievement are short lived and less meaningful without a postive social effect to accompany them.

    interesting enough. Wasn’t sure what the meaning of the other person disappearing was though, as surely if this was a child you would still have a spouse and other family ties, I think it would have actually worked better if the other person represented a parent and player a growing person who loses the protective environment of their parents and most construct their own meaning, i.e. a new social or family circle.

  6. Zeno, Internetographer says:

    I like my games with less emotions and more robots and wizards.

  7. PleasingFungus says:

    Very odd.

    The bit when she left was… jarring.

  8. Paul says:

    I didn’t even notice she was gone. :(
    I guess had become too wrapped up in reaching for the ‘stars’…
    Loved it. Personally, I think it’s deeper and and conveys it’s ideas much better than Passage, which was also great.

    “Know that there are no “accidents” in this game design.”
    Saying this was a clever way of simply making you think about it everything, for me at least.

  9. spoodie says:

    Personally I don’t get any message from the game, but it was quite a fun diversion for a while. Even if I didn’t really understand what I was supposed to be doing.

  10. Champagne O'Leary says:

    I’m not quite sure about my head going on fire.

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    And in the game?

  12. mezz says:

    I loved it. I’m not sure why, but passage never quite did it for me, but this one definitely did. Maybe it is the inclusion of a little more gameplay, which would be strange since the gameplay is not what makes it good, but maybe just allows me to make the initial connection with the game in order to really get into the experience. Also the gameplay means it doesn’t just give us the chance to explore feelings about real life, but also games as well (the collection of stars sent me instantly thinking about the things Jonathon Blow has said about games like mario).
    Amazing how much of an effect the loss of the girl had. No musical or visual cues telling us “right now kids, time to feel an emotion” which films with poor scripts seem to rely on, and yet here there isn’t even a script. The only thing close is the one the player writes when we first develop our the relationship with her (learning to play heart catch works very well).
    In a very crazy way this reminds me of the second The Longest Journey game, where you revisit some old friends from the first one. Seeing how Emma had changed got to me a lot more than a similar event in films would, the mere fact that we have interacted with these characters seems to have a huge effect on our relationship with fictional characters.

    Anyway, back on topic, there is definitely something of great importance growing here. Although it is strange that some of us don’t get it at all and some definitely do.
    A question to those of you which didn’t get it at all, is it just with games where you don’t like a heavy emphasis on ideas and emotions? Or do you dislike that in all art/fiction?

  13. Fat Zombie says:

    Yeah, I’d also like to know what having a barnet of flames symbolises.

    Still, it was vaguely entertaining. Could have used some sort of vehicle-section, though.

    Also, reading the discussion over at Kotaku I came across a good point: why are art-games all so damned depressing? Can’t we have art-games that have an uplifting message?

  14. dhex says:

    A question to those of you which didn’t get it at all, is it just with games where you don’t like a heavy emphasis on ideas and emotions? Or do you dislike that in all art/fiction?

    obligatory “my favorite game is planescape” line aside (it’s up there, to say the least) i think the further games move away from their core competency – providing engaging interactive experiences – the less i enjoy them. “everything changes and everyone dies” is indeed an important life lesson to learn, but it’s sort of akin to playing someone a vintage mid-90s midi version of a classic song. it’s great that someone went out of their way to score a midi version, it took a long time, etc…but it’s still elevator music.

    why are art-games all so damned depressing?

    melodrama is more engaging than optimism?

  15. Masked Dave says:

    I didn’t like it because the message was so forced. Why do you suddenly become unable to keep on jumping? Sure, your kid might be lonely, but there’s no actual reason to go back there and push the bricks into the fire, the game forces you to do that.

    It was weird when she left though, but I was just annoyed that I wouldn’t be able to get my jumping back rather than actually feeling loss.

    Passage was far less heavy handed and much better because of it.

  16. batteries says:

    Wasn’t sure what the meaning of the other person disappearing was though, as surely if this was a child you would still have a spouse and other family ties, I think it would have actually worked better if the other person represented a parent and player a growing person who loses the protective environment of their parents and most construct their own meaning, i.e. a new social or family circle.

  17. jallel says:

    i replayed this game several times.

    the first time i spent most of my time playing with the kid.

    then i decided i would get some stars, the second time.
    over a few times, my goals varied, from getting as high as i could, to trying to burn up all the stars, but i eventually decided that you could not get everything in this game; you couldnt have your cake and eat it too. so i decided that the ultimate goal in my mind was to get rid of all the ice and snow forever. and because the stars seemed to burn up in the fire and also seemed associated with the ice, i decided to destroy all the stars. of course, i understood that i didnt have enough time to actually burn them all, and also that if i spent my time collecting them all, they would build up at the bottom and i wouldnt be able to keep from cutting myself off from the little girl. but i decided that perhaps, when every star was at the bottom of the world, the source of cold would be annihilated, and even though the bottom of the world would be icy, the girl would have left by the end of the game, so she wouldnt suffer for it, and i would be at the top, where the snow and ice would no longer have conquered.

    i guess its kind of a buddhist interpretation.

    anyways, i succeeded in collecting all the stars, and they all piled up at the bottom, but i only got done within the last 5 seconds of the game so i didnt have a chance to see if the winter would be ultimately defeated.

    j.o.