23/365 – Meditation Games #23 – Swept Out To Sea

Developer: Nick Kaman

Launcher Quote: On this day, when I was 11, I was swept out to sea.”

Some of the charm of figuring out these games without any text is how the flow or the gameplay is supposed to work. Without any real guidance, you’re thrown into things much like how Nick intends you to literally be tossed in the sea, struggling to swim to shore as you try to figure out where you’re supposed to go and how you’re supposed to go about doing it.

I realized that for many of these games that have active controls, that the experience of figuring out and getting your bearings is as important to the game’s presentation as actually meeting these goals. If this was a couple weeks earlier, I’d probably be frantically pressing keys or clicking, looking to try to win the game as quickly as possible before I inevitably “lost”. But working with these games these first 23 days or so forced me to unlearn a lot of what I was naturally inclined to do from years of playing games, and be more concerned with the experience of the game and not so much to getting to the end of it.

Maybe that’s why when I decided to not press too much and experiment with a few careful presses that it got easier for me to get to the shore in this game. It may have been meant as something that Nick wanted to replicate when it came to safely being able to swim (the more you struggle the worse it gets), but it also may have been a bit of a comparison to how one might approach life and the things that inevitably get in your way or even put you in danger of not getting where you’re supposed to. Thrashing about and panicking would only have you flailing toward the uncertain open sea, but having a plan, knowing what to do, and being careful and determined gets you to safe land. It’s certainly a reminder of what I’ve had to learn to get to that point of understanding, and even if the developer hadn’t intended the comparison, that’s probably also a part of why this project is so intriguing – finding out how players react to and interpret what you’ve placed in front of them even if it’s as simple as a beautiful shore ahead that’s a short swim away.

 

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