A Philosophical Critique

Tom Jubert (of Penumbra fame) has been writing a philosophical critique of The Infinite Ocean. I can’t tell you how excited and happy I am about this. Not just because he has positive things to say, though I won’t deny that it gladdens me; but because what I dreamt of when I first released the game, what I yearned for so much, was engagement. I wanted someone to engage with the game, to think and write about its philosophical and aesthetic content. I was so enthusiastic when I originally made the game, so in love with trying new things, with exploring the relationship between form and content, with exploring storytelling through implication and detail… there was a lot that was clumsy in the result, and some flaws that haven’t been fixed in the new version (because I didn’t want to falsify the spirit of the original), but there was also a great deal of enthusiasm on my part, and a desire for the kind of conversations and analyses that works of interactive fiction were getting. I wanted that very, very badly, and it was very difficult for me to accept that no-one was interested in that.

Perhaps the game is better now, or perhaps times have changed – most likely both. But to know that all that work, all that enthusiasm and hope and disappointment weren’t entirely for nothing, that after all these years the game has reached its audience, is a relief, and a joy, and I am grateful.

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  1. byth

     /  January 17, 2011

    It’s a nice critique, and I got most of the same ideas. You did a good job of presenting it in a way that people can understand what you’re trying to get across very easily but in a way that still seems significant (Jubert calls it a “cleverly disguised novella” and he’s right).

    I’d like to read a philosophical critique of Penumbra too :P. The atmospheres in Penumbra and TIO are amazingly similar, despite the totally different gameplay style, and in Black Plague there are some really interesting communications. Every time I saw a computer I got excited for a new one-way video chat (which is an awesome addition/dev time-saver in its own right) or to pore through the files. In TIO I felt similarly about the bits, and I imagine if there were less of them I would get almost exactly the same feeling.

    I think the biggest difference is accessibility and attention. It can reach a lot more people in Flash.