Game-to-Film: Every Day The Same Dream

By Alec Meer on May 31st, 2010 at 1:22 pm.

Remember Every Day The Same Dream, the affectingly maudlin indie chronicle of an office worker’s unhappy life? Patryck Senwicki and Tamas Kiss certainly do. So much so that they’ve turned it into a short film. While you should probably play the game before watching this, its themes are fairly universal. Those themes being ‘modern life is rubbish.’


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42 Comments »

  1. Lewis says:

    Huh. What an interesting interpretation.

    I very passionately disliked EDTSD for the same reason I very passionately disliked Decay: basically, I find the notion that “shit jobs lead to people wanting to kill themselves” to be hugely, enormously offensive. Mental illness leads to people wanting to kill themselves, not a dislike of a job.

    But this is an interesting interpretation. Huh.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      There’s something to be said regarding how mental illness is expressed in the society that creates the shit jobs, of course. Touched on here.

    • Mike says:

      Yeah. Also I think the killing is often less literal than you’re making it out to be – it’s about the state of mind that such a way of life can put you in; and also perhaps the designer’s feeling about the way modern life is.

      I think it’s an over-explored area, but I don’t think it means to be offensive.

    • anomie says:

      Not every person who commits suicide has a mental illness, though. There’s perfectly reasonable excuses for a person to not want to live on this planet anymore, and to say that every person who commits suicide does so because of an illness is absurd…

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Yeah, suicide is pretty much the pinnacle of the right people have to dispose of themselves. Suicide being “bad” is just some occidental religious consideration, but we admitedly do have a problem with death as a whole.
      What’s weird is that we still have a problem nowadays with people suiciding, even if it’s no longer an issue for society or race perpetuation.

      Also, we do have a problem with suicide, but not really with the shitty socio-professionnal context that more often than not leads to it. In fact it is: “we’re ok with you leaving a crap life and being stuck in it (because let’s face it, social elevator is out of service these days for most of the population), but not with you wanting to end it”, pretty sadistic I think for such a good-minded bunch.

      No, what I understand the less in fact is just suiciding yourself, quietly. The system don’t care if you kill yourself, it’ll even benefits from it. Dude, if you’re going down you better take one or two of the bastards that made the crappy world you live in with you, no ? Y’know, just to help those who remains.
      If every people that suicided because of his work had human-bombed the board-of-directors or shot a bullet through a few great shareholder’s head I’m not convinced the capitalism would be that triumphant over the well being of humans. That’s why I desperately missed the possibility to baseball bat into oblivion the bald head of your boss in EDTSD.

      Just sayin’ for the sake of conversation, of course.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Sounds like you interpreted the game completely differently to me. I thought it was about wanting to change the characters dull life, suicide was only was option, and in my opinion that’s not too unrealistic anyway.

      Also, from my experience of working on a production line I would have rather killed myself than worked there all my life.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      err, I meant “living”, not “leaving”. Talk about parapraxis.

    • perilisk says:

      ‘Suicide being “bad” is just some occidental religious consideration, but we admitedly do have a problem with death as a whole.’

      I’m pretty sure that was evolution’s fault, long before religion got its hands dirty.

    • The Great Wayne says:

      Well, questionning about death is indeed -while tightly bound to religion- a generic question, didn’t mean to imply it wasn’t.

      Suicide however is quite variably apprehended in different cultures, mostly because it’s more a social phenomenon than it is a psychological one. See Emile Durkheim work on this question which, as controversial as it could be, contain some interesting clues imho.

    • Muzman says:

      You kids and your existential angst. Suicide is, in nearly all cases, a sign of deep seated mental problems. Unless there’s a bite on your leg and zombies banging on your door for seconds, the desire to do yourself in definitely falls into the category of abnormal, however one might rationalise it. This isn’t to say that lifestyle can’t contribute to depression or someone should be happy with whatever shitty grind they have. There’s a difference between being so unhappy you lose the will to live and gaining to the will to end it all. It looks a narrow divide, but it’s a tall one, if you know what I mean.

      Indeed it’s actually kindof misleading that we tell this story (in the game and film) frequently enough. The grinding repetitious modern life “explains” the outcome a little too neatly. The reality rarely has so clear a narrative. People in the worst shit holes in the world don’t kill themselves at the rate people in the developed world do. But then I’ve known people who topped themselves ostensibly because they couldn’t get the same life as the guy in the film; steady job, live in girlfriend, nice house, car etc. If it is modern life that’s driving us nuts, quite how it’s doing it doesn’t get explained by these stories (game or film). It’s really just a trope, most often, in my humble experience, employed by student artists who’ve never actually done that sort of job, have no intention of doing so and are kind of pre emptively horrified. Their parents played them that Little Boxes song a lot or something.

      But that’s ok. There’s other things you can get out of this, gets people to look at life a bit differently or the lives of others perhaps. Making it interactive was a great idea. In fact I think the filmmakers missed or failed to illustrate the most important dimension to the story; the feeling of limited choices and a seemingly inevitable conclusion. Something that is key to a lot of suicidal depression, regardless of lifestyle. Decently made film all the same. Indie games and indie short films go well together.

    • Antsy says:

      This really said nothing to me at all. Guys life was banal and repetitious, suddenly he’s thinking about jumping off a roof. Something was missing. There was no hint of the quiet desperation of depression, just some emotionally null music and low lighting. Anyway at his age he’d be living for the weekend :P

    • Lewis says:

      Jim: Of course. I’d be interested to read that, actually. And, of course, having a mundane job when you also suffer from an illness which exasperates emotional problems can make you even more unhappy than you would have been. And having a terrible job anyway can make you deeply unhappy. The last time I had a terrible job, though, I realised it was making me unhappy and I left to pursue something I was passionate about. (Not everyone has this luxury, I’m aware.)

      anomie: My understanding is that if you go to your GP claiming to be feeling suicidal, you will almost certainly be diagnosed with a depressive, anxiety or psychotic disorder. There are more factors to the diagnosis than this, of course, and only a small portion of people with such illnesses will also feel suicidal, but it’s still a biggie.

      (There are, of course, exceptions: someone wanting to die because their life is rendered awful due to some other unrelated illness, from which they are not going to recover, would fit into an entirely different category, I suspect. As in, if you’re going to die anyway, it’s understandable that there’s a desire to die in the least horrendous way possible. But I also suspect the protagonists of EDTSD and Decay — and Decay specifically, which for the record I did find multiple times more horrendous than EDTSD — do not fit into this category.)

      The Great Wayne: I think judging suicide as morally “good” or “bad” is preposterous, personally, though I can understand that people have reasons for seeing logic to that.

      DrGonzo: Yeah, the fact that it’s an option renders EDTSD as slightly less egregious. c.f. Decay, in which you are absolutely, positively rewarded for [Spoilers, probably] jumping off a building instead of going back to work. The suicide ending is unquestionably intended as the best path to take, and the only jusification you’re ever given is that, ‘Oh, isn’t the whole school-to-work cycle so horribly mundane and controlling, and weren’t those childhood years the best?’ which I absolutely cannot get behind as a message.

      (Man. I’m being hyper-defensive about this, aren’t I?)

    • MadMatty says:

      He´s so boring he goes suicidal !-
      only reason he got his hoody on, is prolly coz its “casual” day at the office…. if i had a car, i´d grab that asian bint and go for a weeklong tour-de-rave around the english countryside.
      After i´d smashed the fax ofcourse.

    • Wulf says:

      So much to say here, but where to begin?

      I’m reminded of Falling Down by what The Great Wayne had to say. I thought that was a seminal movie, and quite an important one, too. It covers some of the same ground as Every Day the Same Dream, but instead of opting for a quiet suicide, he goes out with a bang and fights the more questionable and depressing elements of society at the same time.

      As for the game, it was fascinating to me. I got the impression that the man was quiet, like a wimpy bean counter who rarely had a word to say to anyone, let alone in his own defence. But then he started going crazy in a particularly interesting way, he broke from his behavioural patterns and started to experiment. Why was he on that road to work every day? So out of his car he got, and wandered for a bit, where he found a cow to pet. “Hey, this is great, why have I never done this before?!”

      And from there it spirals outward, as he seeks greater liberties. He tries going naked, it’s a laugh turning up at work in the nude. Who wants to be encrusted in that dusty old suit all the time, anyway? He decides that being naked is fun, and then an old lady asks him to spend some quiet time with her, at a graveyard, all this whilst still naked. Other things happen until finally the big event arrives at the end. I can’t say I was too surprised by that, but I think it was a bit of a wasted opportunity, too.

      I wish the author had been risky enough to include a few more options. One being the chance to whack your boss around the head with a two-by-far as desired by The Great Wayne, and another entirely. I’d like to have seen one of the endings continue after death. He wakes up in a world of infinite novelty, and it isn’t the same dream this time. He hops on his mystical cow mount and rides off into the sunset, surrounded by almost unimaginable things, with a swirling sky above filled with airships, dragons, floating islands, mini-galaxies, and so much more.

      I dearly would’ve loved to see the controversy that would’ve caused, and how people would have interpreted it. But alas, it was just a bored guy deciding that life was too much and jumping out of a window. It could have been more if there were more options to continue with. Even just going back to work and never really having any dreams beyond that, for those that want that sort of ending.

    • disperse says:

      @Lewis
      I agree. Without more information, this portrayal certainly trivializes suicide. You could interpret it as: the protagonist hates his alarm clock so much that he throws himself from the roof.

      @Wulf
      My biggest problem with Every Day the Same Dream was the ending. Having your main character kill themselves is a lazy way to end a story. Might as well just have him wake up. Hey, I dreamed the whole thing!

    • JackShandy says:

      You know, the Romans concidered suicide one of the basic rights of every citizen. Regardless, I don’t really think that the game is trying to say anything about suicide, one way or the other. As I saw it, the game was about a surreal kind of futility: He tries changing his life in all these different ways, even getting fired and commiting suicide, and every time he just wakes up in the same bed again.

  2. Young James says:

    Wait a minute. His office has espresso cups! and framed art! and windows! I’d push him off the roof for that kind of rubbish life.

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      The frame art is Statler and Waldorf. Which I thought fits nicely in the idea of the film. We tend to live pretty boring and shackled lives, surrounded by imagery of insubordination, rebellion, free will. In essence giving us the illusion we are free to, by feeding our feelings for escapism.

      You are right though, working conditions are much worse than that for the vast majority of office workers. Including programmers. Cubicles don’t even give you the option to hang a framed picture.

  3. HidesHisEyes says:

    The game was more Art than the film, in my opinion. It gained so much from the interactivity.

  4. Mario Figueiredo says:

    Brilliant. The music does much of the work, which in these days is often seen as a minus. But I still tend to appreciate it’s dramatic power when the theme is close to me.

    I can’t stand that life, you know. I really can’t. That’s why, when I came to that realization, I decided to be my own boss. It’s risky, it’s not without it’s hardships and even without its routine. But something… I dunno, something changed back to how it was before. How I looked back at life and people in my life. I can sincerely say I feel freer and more happy. But, let me tell you it also adds fear. With a certain degree of freedom, comes fear. Fear that things may go wrong, if things will be still ok next year, etc.

    Anyways, for a similar theme, Studio Joho has Cleverman. A nicely done animation in a style rarely seen on computer, but which was (still is) widely recognized for its artistic value. I think some of you have already seen Cleverman. But for those who haven’t, there it is.

  5. costyka says:

    It’s so much more evident from this version, rather than the game itself that it’s not that life in itself is boring and just a nuisance but rather the lack of any real interest in making it worthy and fulfilling. The lack of imagination

    The character, being so young gives a totaly different dimension to his inability to be creative and bring any joy to his own life. Contrast this with the life of a mature person, who has the right to be bored and in a sort of real midlife crysis. A young person seems a lot more like a hypocrite in his inability to enjoy life.

    And it’s so much more bewildering when you realize that he is a lucky son of a gun to have a house, a car, a job and everything else, but still seems so far away from any real fulfilment.

    Strange.

    • Antsy says:

      I felt the same way. The only thing the in film that was depressed was the lighting and the music. Still, it broke me out of my ennui enough to feel contemptuous of it. Kudos!

  6. westyfield says:

    Perfect. Just what I need on a grey bank holiday Monday.

    I recommend listening to One Day Like This by Elbow afterwards ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQIdXKz4sE8 ), it’s cheerful enough to make me want to do something that doesn’t involve lying face down on the floor and crying, which is what the game and film did.

  7. poop says:

    something about this doesnt work as well as the original, i think it is how this one doesnt have that nifty music synced with the gameplay that gives it a real assembly line feel

  8. vanarbulax says:

    Yeah, I still found it amazingly underwhelming.

    Maybe it’s because I haven’t had to work the daily grind yet and hopefully I will be able to work in interesting sciencey researchy stuff after uni, but all these “jobs are mundane” messages just find me going “well yeah”. Life isn’t going to make itself interesting for you, you need to find an interest in the world yourself. Then again I’m the sort of person who will trawl the internet to find explanations for how pretty much everything I see works. As stated before, plenty of people want a boring, stable job. The whole “may you live in interesting times” thing I guess. What you have becomes worthless until you look at what other’s don’t have.

    And I know the whole suicide thing is metaphorical but I agree with Lewis that it bugs me.

  9. Flimgoblin says:

    Liked the music – wasn’t quite as powerful a statement as the game imo (partly due to looking a little too colourful :) particularly the office, partly down to the game being about making choices – whereas the film is a completely passive affair).

    Could see someone doing something clever with youtube annotations and this footage linking between different versions of the day…

  10. bakaohki says:

    Just give me a camera, I can even stream you “Every Day The Same Dream” live, starring myself. Didn’t like the film though, it’s absolutely not desperate enough :)

  11. Clockwork Peanut says:

    “Suicide being “bad” is just some occidental religious consideration”

    Um… what? I’ve got a feeling that you would feel differently if a friend or relative of yours committed suicide.

    People are harmed by suicide, and the life of the person in question is completely wasted. I’d say that suicide comes into two categories: impulsive and planned. The impulsive suicide is committed without properly considering consequences, in many cases the person in question might be under the influence of alcohol or some other drug; it is quite clearly bad because the person in question may regret that decision.

    The planned suicide on the other hand I would say does suggest that the person in question does have some sort of (however minor) mental ‘illness’- rational should point us away from such a decision, for reasons of self-preservation imbued within humans, but furthermore because a shit life with the tiniest amount of good in it is better than NOTHING. And those who do believe there is something else… well they are likely to be religious, and as you say most religions are against suicide.

    • Mark O'Brien says:

      @Clockwork Peanut

      I’m on board with you saying that suicide harms people. Suicide is a selfish act and will hurt those you love.

      I also agree that impulsive suicide is a mistake.

      I don’t, however, think it is fair to say that in all cases planned suicide is irrational, nor that a shit life is necessarily better than nothing. To say so is just a matter of opinion. You may feel that a shit life is better than nothing, but not everybody does. To those who feel that death is merely oblivion, suicide might be a rational decision based on the fact that their life is misery.

      I would still like to emphasize that I do think it’s a selfish decision in most cases, and I also think it may be a bit short-sighted because things will often improve in time, but to characterise it as universally irrational or insane seems unfair to me.

    • Clockwork Peanut says:

      I guess what I should have said is that, to me at least, a shit life is incomparable to the non-existence, so I don’t understand how anyone can rationally come to a conclusion on the issue.

      The only way I could understand suicide is in some contrived situation where an individual is subjected to torture endlessly, the problem i have is that a shit job seems so ridiculously far from that situation (another situation I will happily admit to be more contentious). And that’s why I jump to the notion of mental illness.

    • Mark O'Brien says:

      @Clockwork Peanut

      Hmm… I’d say this could have the makings of an interesting philosophical debate, but this probably isn’t the place for it.

      I’d agree anyway that suicide would probably be a fairly extreme response to being fed up with your job!

    • The Great Wayne says:

      The twist being: who cares if you and I understand suicide ? Of course losing a close relative is hard, even more so with suicide because you’ll inevitably think you could have done something. But as much as suicide can be selfish, trying to keep other people to live for you is selfish as well. See the whole euthanasia right debate.
      In fact, human isn’t really altruistic in itself so it’s kinda a moot argument.

      But the debate isn’t “is suicide good or bad ?” that’d be a stupid question because most people will say it’s bad until they consider it themselves. So it’d at best be an hypocritical statement. In fact, there’s not even a debate on suicide, suicide isn’t a solution, it’s giving up on finding solutions.

      Trying to qualify suicide as mental illness is pointless, because it’s mostly sociological. Deeply depressed people in some parts of the world will not suicide themselves while US people will, for example.
      Also, considering history, you got a load of ritual suicides or altruistic suicidal sacrifices for example that don’t fall into your narrow definition. Again see Durkheim work for more details on the question.

      By the way, most religions didn’t condemn suicide as a “mortal sin”. Pretty much the only ones to do that are those that promise an afterlife full of win, and we can easily understand why you must dissuade people to kill themselves if on the other hand you’re selling them the heaven concept. See shintoism, buddhism, mayas and a lot of amerindian cultures for known examples of cultures that are much more accepting on the question.

      In the end, of course I too think that suicide is stupid, anybody would. But I’ll clearly not judge or play the offended quidam on the topic. Not that it’d have made a difference anyway.

      That said, to get back on topic, of course the film plot is simplistic and unrealistic. It’s merely an “image d’epinal” used to make a point. Which it does, I think.

    • Adventurous Putty says:

      Camus said that the only real philosophical issue is suicide. He eventually sided against it; but certainly I don’t think it’s irrational to conclude that life isn’t worth living. Just horrifyingly nihilistic, to us optimists who insist that it is.

  12. pupsikaso says:

    This film made me cry more than the game. I don’t know why… maybe the music? Or is it because it’s easier to empathize with a human being rather than a blank-faced cartoon?

  13. clive dunn says:

    Having worked in frontline mental health services for many years, i still find it strange that i find no greater amount of suicides amoungst my clients than i do in my ‘real life’. My aim was to elevate people above their misery as i elevate above mine. I always concede however, that some miserable conditions are just too awful to live with. Severe Huntingtons with a chronic smack habit is just to much for anybody to really ‘live’ with.
    I have seen amazing transformations though. Desperate people, through nothing more than their own willpower and genius, reinventing themselves and achieving equilibrium.

  14. caesarbear says:

    This is inferior to the game, imo. The game, while bleak, had interaction. It had people, both annoying and distant, and it had life. This short film has no life in it. The game is, imo, misinterpreted as a pro-suicide message when it’s quite the opposite. After the all the options are exhausted the people and life in the game disappear and the player is left with the jump as a reminder of what took everything away. The film couldn’t express the same vacancy and loss that the game does.

  15. 2ds says:

    Completely lost the feel of the game I think. I’m tempted to remake it just so I like it better.

    Suicide is the ultimate rejection of the notion of a man as an animal unable to control his own destiny.

    • vanarbulax says:

      I disagree entirely: suicide is the ultimate resignation that you are unable to control your own life. I hate how it’s glorified as a defiant act, I can’t think of anything as futile and desperate. It’s not exercising your own destiny, it’s removing any choice or change you maybe have, removing even your ability to well, do anything.

  16. nichevo says:

    What a lot of hate for the office environment.

    IMO the quality of an office job depends a lot on the quality of your co-workers. If you’re working with a good bunch of people it won’t matter to you if your cubicle is small or your TPS reports are boring. I’d much rather work in a cubicle with a great team than in some dream job where all my colleagues are bullies and psychopaths.

    I felt I needed to say that, in defense of office jobs.

  17. TeeJay says:

    No cows?
    No traffic jams?
    No rows of cubicles?
    No old women or graveyard?
    No nakedness?

    OK, so they slimmed it down a bit (fair enough done on minimal budget and to fit into 8 minutes) but…

    …seemed to fail in portraying little things, for example:

    + He is suddenly on the roof and looking around – without having played the game I wouldn’t really know where he was or what he was doing.

    + At the end noone is around – OK you notice his wife isn’t there, but in the office you never saw anyone else in the first place (in fact noone else during the whole film).

    Even the way he first of all dresses down a *bit* then a bit more (but with no immediate feedback from boss)- it kind of disipated the suit versus non-suit ‘choice’ that the game presented.

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