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The Winner Takes Your Files: Lose/Lose

Take that C:Windows/program/indiegame/readme.text

I’ve been thinking about this game for the last couple of days. Which is, I suppose, the point. Lose/Lose is a basic shooting game… but: “Lose/Lose is a video-game with real life consequences. Each alien in the game is created based on a random file on the players computer. If the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted. If the players ship is destroyed, the application itself is deleted”. Oh, the humanity. More of what I’m sure will be termed art-wank in comments thread on the page. What I’m thinking about isn’t actually the questions it’s posing, but how it could be to have twisted to actually have proper gameplay appeal. You’ll find thought quick thoughts plus footage of the game in action below…

Here’s the baby…

lose/lose from zach gage on Vimeo.

DIE FILES.

The effect of the game deleting your files when you actually succeed in playing it, bar to illustrate some pretty basic points – Killing Just Because You Can Isn’t Necessarily Right – doesn’t really do anything. You’ll notice a list of high scores on the site, and they’re mostly really low. People are not playing it for obvious reasons. But they are a bit – partially for exhibitionist reasons and partially for absolute ludicrous iron-manisms. Yeah, I don’t give a fuck enough to do this.

Iron-man-isms are one of those trends which are interesting. The industry talks about opening games up to more and more people, but there’s a niche who absolutely adores the brutalisation. You’d actually create a particularly nasty Iron-Man game by flipping the mechanism. As in, files are deleted by you losing. So playing isn’t actually about being just masochistically self-destructive – it’s a statement that you believe your skills are enough that you won’t lose any files. With an actually compelling game, I can see some players (i.e. Quinns) actually being attracted to that.

Of course, there’s another, much more populist approach to the game. Just connect it to your Recycle Trash Bin thing, and you run the game whenever you want to empty it. You blast through enemies, each tiny victory permanently deleting the file they represent, and you win the game when the Recycle Bin is clear. Just a way to enliven a normal workaday part of your PC-life. And that I think you’ll find a lot of people playing, for exactly that reason. And, to be honest, I suspect would be a far more interesting work of art than Lose/Lose – of how making things a game can defeat tedium and remix reality.

I’m a fan of this kind of using your PC’s files as part of the game. There’s a 90s shooter which Richard Cobbett told me about – and whose name will, I’m sure, be mentioned in the comments thread in seconds – which uses random picture files from your hard-drive as wall textures in one level. Which is a brilliant concept, if only for the mental image of playing a game in front of friends and suddenly finding themselves fighting through a mass of pornography. Oh noes!

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Kieron Gillen

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Kieron Gillen is robo-crazy.

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