I’m back, after a well needed weekend. As you may have noticed on Friday’s post, last week ended on a bit of a weird note.
In fact, the whole week felt really weird.
At least from a personal stand point.
Externally speaking, a pretty normal week in gaming.
I move forward, now, in search of something shocking. With an effort to reach the unexplored, I march on with the hopes that I may observe, or even stumble upon a new truth in gaming. One that will test the core of my analytic abilities. One that will create a sense of shock and awe. Something…or someone that will force me into a state of mental duress, and make me question the very fabrics of reality.
As if by some cosmic coincidence, or just some cruel unavoidable joke in my gaming world, I’m once again found staring into the eyes of wild insanity. In my quest to defeat my own curiosity I’m actually cornered with only Curiosity, and the morbid master of it’s domain.
Peter “The Fable” Molyneux.
While I do enjoy using my flowery word play, I am not playing around when referring to the act of being cornered by curiosity, as it’s Peter Molyneux’s newest game. Curiosity has been out on Android devices since late last year, and I remembered hearing about the project, on the heels of hearing about the news Peter Molyneux had left Lionhead to start a new development studio, 22cans. Knowing Peter’s track record, I’m sure his initial idea for founding 22cans, involved building the companies office on an island in space.
At the last second realizing how impossible that actually is.
Curiosity was, in pre-hype phases, billed as a “social experiment”. This is due to the rather unorthodox nature of the title, as Curiosity itself, doesn’t contain any real game design mechanics. Just you, a bunch of other players, and a gigantic fuck off cube that has something in the center that’s “life changingly amazing by any definition”
Yes, that’s right, “Curiosity” contains nothing but a massive cube, and a bunch of players tapping away at it, in the hopes of collectively seeing what awaits in the center. You might think “Quirky little community project we got going on here”…but there is one catch. Only one player can see what’s at the center. Which means after all is said and done, time invested, and money lost (if you ended up buying any of the DLC to help you tap away cubes faster), only one out of the tens of thousands of people working at the massive project will know what’s inside.
Will the person who reaches the center lie about the contents? Will they greedily keep the information to themselves? Will they begin a Kickstarter, and hold the content of the cubes center hostage via finance?
If you want the shit straight from the horses ass, here’s the down and dirty in it’s rawest form.
As you can see, the game represents the essence of absurdity. I brushed Curiosity aside initially when I first heard about the title , because I thought Peter Molyneux was just talking shit about an insane idea he had, not an insane idea he had made. Most of what he says I take with a grain of salt, after some of the more outlandish statements he’s made in the past. The reason I bring it up now, was a random post on gamasutra.com by writer Mike Rose, who alerted me to the depths at which the game is reaching, as it stumbles further down the rabbit hole.
The new depths of madness the game has reached involves that random post, and my discovery that Peter Molyneux and his team are now allowing people to pay real money to reverse the progress the players have made thus far, by adding cubes to fill back in the holes players have already made, essentially extending the life of “Curiosity”. This is through certain players, causing more work for the other players, who are trying to get to the center, by adding cubes they’ve already tapped away.
As a quick recap of the nonsense I just mentioned, players are paying, to stop other players, from likely never seeing what they’re helping to uncover.
As the article I linked to stated, and the writer Mike Rose has already aptly pointed out, Peter Molyneux has successfully monetized trolling with this in game option. I suppose Peter wanted to start outsourcing the trolling, after so many years of being exhausted of doing it himself. If this recent move is any indication, Curiosity possesses a greater aspiration to the psychotic than I had once imagined. With the situation of the concept degrading into further madness as time goes on, through the help and (un)intentional? abuses of the 22cans development team, and the king of Trolls himself, Peter “The Fable” Molyneux.
So, what does this all mean?
Going back to my opening sentiment, this all feels really weird.
Yet, upon further inspection, an Android game is attracting people by novelty alone, gamers are unnecessarily paying for useless shit to be used in game, and Peter Molyneux continues to talk absolute shit about video games again.
Externally speaking, a pretty normal week in gaming.
I must say, this whole Curiosity concept has my analytical abilities at a stand still. I think that in some odd twist, Peter Molyneux has come up with a concept so insane, it 360’s back into the rationale. While the game doesn’t really possess any real design aspects to speak of, the players find reasons to keep coming back to participate. The only real “win condition”, is one that 99.9999% of all players won’t achieve, and may not even ever known about, yet they still try to help the group “win” by tapping away the cubes. The game even features players working against other players, but gain no sense of domination over them, or any in game benefit from doing so. In fact, they even lose real money in the act. If anything, they are putting themselves at a real world disadvantage for a personally perceived notion of 1-up man ship, or some abstract sense of virtual reality non-conformity.
To imbue a little sense of meaning and sense out of any of this, beyond a slew of parodies and references, I will now speculate in a slightly more serious light.
I won’t take some high brow or hardcore gaming stance on this, with declaration that this isn’t a game. It most certainly is, as observed by the Supreme Court ruling in 2011 , the case involving Brown vs Entertainment Merchants Association. Games being protected under the first amendment, and by extension, being given rights as an art form and freedom of speech, forces a reminder that concepts like Curiosity, need not follow the arcade template of old to dictate a video game experience. The premise of the game simply needs to make you feel, respond, or think, and the title has achieved concurrently, a game, and thusly, a piece of art. Not every piece of art is going to be as revered as the Mona Lisa, mind you, and I will not be the one to stroke Peter Molyneux’s ego with this exact comparative notion.
I simply wish to point out my own struggle, in analyzing the game, and what Curiosity possible represents.
Have we finally reached a point where a game can exist by merely a name, the entertainment an abstraction, and the content our own?
Does Curiosity represent some kind of virtual reality equivalent of Schodinger’s Cat? Does Curiosity represent a first, in creating the proto-type of rhetorical game design? Is this experience some kind of perversely sardonic crowd sourced joke , through the use of irreverent communism?
Or is Peter Molyneux just talking absolute shit about video games again?