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The Witness


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yeah, so, this was at PAX, but we've got not much on it, except the social experiment that was at the show itself:










Originally Posted by Jonathan Blow: I had several reasons for wanting to show the game this way. Firstly: At a show full of companies trying to capture your attention and sell you things, I wanted to do something that is subtle, and a surprise — if you notice it, and decide to investigate, you find something unexpected.


Also, I wanted people to be able to play the game for as long as they want, not feeling pressured to stop playing because of a huge line of antsy people waiting behind them.


Before PAX, only two people had ever played the game; those people were game developers, and the versions they played were very rudimentary. This was the first time the game had ever been played by general players, and I wanted to see how people would react to it, as honestly as possible. I didn’t want to give them any reason to think that this was a good game, or was by any designer they might have heard of. So I just left the game running, and would occasionally peek at it from afar to see who was playing and how they were doing.


PAX is a huge show, with tons of stuff to see everywhere; if the game could hold peoples’ attention under those conditions, purely on its own merits rather than by hype or pedigree, then I would know that it was really working.




More on how people played the game here:



personally? yeah, its pretentious, but i see what he was going for...and based on the net's reaction to finding this out, he was kinda proven right.

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  • 1 year later...

The Atlantic: The Most Dangerous Gamer (Bio of Johnathan Blow)




Blow has decided to use his money—nearly all of it—to finance what may be the most intellectually ambitious video game in history, one that he hopes will radically expand the limitations of his chosen field. Although video games long ago blossomed into full commercial maturity (the adrenaline-soaked military shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, for example, racked up $400 million in sales during its first 24 hours in stores last fall), the form remains an artistic backwater, plagued by cartoonish murderfests and endless revenue-friendly sequels. Blow intends to shake up this juvenile hegemony with The Witness, a single-player exploration-puzzle game set on a mysterious abandoned island. In a medium still awaiting its quantum intellectual leap, Blow aims to make The Witness a groundbreaking piece of interactive art—a sort of Citizen Kane of video games..



As a developer whose independent success has emancipated him from the grip of the monolithic game corporations, Blow makes a habit of lobbing rhetorical hand grenades at the industry. He has famously branded so-called social games like FarmVille “evil” because their whole raison d’être is to maximize corporate profits by getting players to check in obsessively and buy useless in-game items. (In one talk, Blow managed to compare FarmVille’s developers to muggers, alcoholic-enablers, Bernie Madoff, and brain-colonizing ant parasites.) Once, during an online discussion about the virtues of short game-playing experiences, Blow wrote, “Gamers seem to praise games for being addicting, but doesn’t that feel a bit like Stockholm syndrome?”



“If the video game is going to be used for art purposes, then it has to take advantage of its form in some way particular to that medium, right?” he told me. “A film and a novel can both do linear storytelling, but novels are very strong at internal mental machinations—which movies suck at—and movies are great at doing certain visual things. So the question is: Where are games on that same map?” It’s a question Blow intends to answer.


THERE’S NO NICE way to say this, but it needs to be said: video games, with very few exceptions, are dumb. And they’re not just dumb in the gleeful, winking way that a big Hollywood movie is dumb; they’re dumb in the puerile, excruciatingly serious way that a grown man in latex elf ears reciting an epic poem about Gandalf is dumb. Aside from a handful of truly smart games, tentpole titles like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Call of Duty: Black Ops tend to be so silly and so poorly written that they make Michael Bay movies look like the Godfather series.



I respect ambition, and i fully agree that most game stories are shit. But we're on some Molyneux level shit here.

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See I thought the basic "Oh shit, I'm just a creepy stalker and the Princess is trying to run away from me!" obvious explanation perfectly satisfying. Being forced to rewind through that last level as the reality slowly sinks in was epic for me.

Add more unnecessary layers if he wants, but the initial layer has to be cool on it's own. I fear he's going to skip the first layer.


PS - Fuck you guys, at this point you don't deserve a spoiler.

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