Creator: Fenrir Cerebellion
Exhibition: CYOW 4: Blackout
Published: May 2021
Format: Twine (Harlowe 3.2.0)
Access: itch.io , Written English, requires a browser
The city is in a blackout; the lack of power and light pollution reminds you of the small town you grew up in. You can sleep at any moment but you haven’t felt this calm in a long time, and staying up to sift through your memories is enticing. The light of your phone screen can keep you up through the night, but only if you don’t drain the battery.
Description of the Work
The last blackout I truly remember was in Vancouver, late at night—the sudden loss of electric hum and streetlight filled me with calm and nostalgia for places that are always without them. I started this game with the premise that the longer you stay awake the more memories you explore of those places.
From there, I wanted a mechanic to reflect both the dying phone I actually had that night and the push and pull between city—a place with cell reception and people on social media—and the memories of rural living. It’s balanced so you can get through the night and still ensure a friend gets home safe, but if you check it too often you’ll fall asleep without the screen’s glare to renew your wakefulness.
Initially I attempted the phone meter by setting variables on the phone’s passage to change the battery, the first in a long series of trials and errors to get the battery to change when it needed to but also not update live—which broke the meter’s display. The end result is every hour’s passage checks if the last passage was last hour—decreasing the battery—or if the twitter link was used—which also decreases the battery before resetting the variable attached to the link for the next time twitter is used.
Every hour and hour’s end state—every memory and its effect—was written in one session and pulled from actual memories with minimal fictionalization. This was a difficult task as it truly does take the prompting of a blackout, or the natural flow of a conversation, to remember anything beyond a day-to-day. This way both the creation of and the game itself present relationships to memory, accomplished by exploring the space provided by a blackout.
Fenrir Cerebellion writes games about memory; how the disconnect by time, place, or memory loss affects who you are presently, and the space or lack thereof community has for that disconnect.
- Ending Bravery, itch.io (live Salon)