It bears reminding ourselves that old-school RPGs and adventure games with sky-high budgets aren't the real reason that crowdsourcing is a tantalising new model for game development. Smaller, madder ideas with eminently achievable funding goals are why Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are a force for good. Soundself ticks all the right boxes - novel but not ridiculous concept, sensible target, playable prototype.
The 'not a game' lobby will doubtless be out in force should Robin Arnott's voice-controlled curio achieve any kind of profile, but the rest of us can enjoy tinkering with the odd, mesmeric sound and vision generated in response to our own voices. It's almost self-hypnosis.
Soundself has more than a few shades of Brian Eno to it, but any world in which that's a bad thing is not one I want to live on. The prototype is only the rudiments of what Arnott has planned, not much beyond a screensaver which is shaped and reshaped by the player's voice. A successfully crowd-funded version will apparently allow far more minute and flexible control - this is essentially proof of concept.
It did the trick nonetheless - my initial experiments in lowing and babbling at Soundself's spirals of colour and ambient tones did take me into an almost dreamlike state of mind. Unfortunately I demolished this sense of passive bliss by electing to then test it with a reading of a news story about UK chancellor George Osborne. I was quickly so incensed by the truth-distortion and cruelty perpetuated by old Toadface McPoorHater that the calming spectrographs of Soundself could do nothing for me. Perhaps, when you try it, you should stick to nursery rhymes.
Here's the pitch video, and you can try the prototype and/or fund Soundself here.
Lead dev Arnott, by the way, was responsible for the similarly relaxing/unsettling sounds of Antichamber, so he has form. He's also hoping to include Oculus Rift support at some point, which is a compelling prospect indeed.
Soundself is only $8k away from its $29k target at the time of writing, so I'll be surprised if it doesn't make it. Only five days to go, mind.