Saturday 12 June 2010

The Power of Interactivity: Everyday the Same Dream - The Film

I'll try to limit myself to no more than one Molleindustria post per month from here on out, but this short film adaptation of Everyday the Same Dream by Patryck Senwicki and Tamas Kiss is too interesting to miss. If you haven't already, I'd recommend as a little experiment watching the film first, then playing the game, but, you know - your call.

Having watched the film through - and having played the game that inspired it some time ago - what strikes me is not that the film is made poorly, but that the game is so much more effective. This pleases me no end. We spend a lot of time in this industry comparing to other mediums our ability to express, evoke and explore emotion and meaning - usually (and I think quite rightly) unfavourably. The opportunity to directly contrast the same story in two different formats is a rare one.

Clearly to some degree the impact of the film is lessened by having played the game first (hence why I'm interested to hear from anyone who watches the film beforehand). It's very hard to judge the film in any sense other than the objective - it's polished, and faithful, but it's hard to say if it's any good at expressing the game's themes.

Very often, I feel, the 'art' in 'art games' could be easily divorced from the games themselves - Braid's gameplay and story both deal with the theme of regret and looking back, but does the gameplay itself really bring that much to the message? It's a topic I discussed briefly in reference to Ceramic Shooter: Electronic Poem, and I think it applies across all mediums - if a piece of art is better appreciated through any format other than its own, then what purpose does it serve?

This is why I particularly hope that the reason I get more from Everyday the Same Dream: The Game has nothing to do with when I first played it or how well made the film version is. I hope the truth is that the sense of routine and the thrill of breaking it is simply more immediate and more evocative in an interactive environment. I hope it means we've found an 'art game' that needs to be not just written about, but played.


  1. Without wanting to spoil anything in the main text, I was also intrigued by the film's interpretation of the games' final scene. The game (intentionally or not) retains greater ambiguity as to the identity of the 'other' jumper.

    The film, by using the same actor, loses something that the cookie cutter office drones of the game had as their own - the idea that identity is, in this sort of inauthentic lifestyle, somewhat moot.

    Which did you play first? How did that impact your enjoyment of the pieces?

  2. I played Every Day... some time ago. I liked it but it's not that much of a game, a simple adventure game if generous. I think the film comes off badly for two reasons.

    First, the style of the game is its main pull. The rolling music from Jesse Stiles; the monochromatic, abstracted graphical design - none of this features in the film. The film has a completely different ambient feel; it's too real.

    Second, this is a concept that has been done to death - work slave tries to find exit from killing self with daily routine. There have been films on this subject before. It's a bad move to use the game as its touchstone without carrying enough of what made the game unique.

    I'm not convinced most art games are actually games at all - I had a grumble about this a few weeks back ( - but rather little experiences, recorded messages you are meant to play. Every Day... is just too simple to be called a game, Anthony Burch described it as "more about the player checking out every possible narrative branch out of morbid curiosity and a desire to complete the game."

    I think a good example of an "art game" which really feels like both art and game is Aisle. A splendidly clever piece of Interactive Fiction. (Although I suppose you could credit any decent piece of IF as being art simply because its so prose heavy; but with Aisle the central mechanic is tied in to its artistic core.) Also worth a mention is the strangely unsettling IF game "Shade".

  3. @Tom: I played Every Day the Same Dream first and was underwhelmed by the film. Interestingly I mentioned shortly after completing the game that this was an experience that wouldn't transfer well to a non-interactive format and I'm happy to be proven right simply because there aren't many games that can boast that sort of quality where the actual *game* is the important part of the experience.

    @harbour master: Very interesting article you linked to there, citing some great examples.

    I think whether the interaction is simple or not doesn't change the fact that Every Day the Same Dream works as an interactive experience and not nearly as well as a movie. What little interaction is there is perfectly placed and entirely relevant. Granted you have to do what you have to do in order to 'complete' the game but the game never explicitly tells you exactly what it is you have to do so you sort of discover it naturally like the curious gamer you are. It's a great quality to harness and build into the design.

    The old lady in the lift is probably the only conspicuous artificial game element in the game which jarred a little (and incidentally wasn't featured in the film) but nonetheless I loved the tightness of the experience, from the aesthetics and soundtrack, to the way the mechanics work with the message in the game.

    My brother, an experienced gamer who should know better, never finished it because he didn't exercise any curiosity despite the mundane repetition. He kept going to work over and over again expecting something to change. As a result he wasn't impressed but he was certainly a numpty for failing to get the idea so spectacularly.

    Anyway, great blog Tom. I just wish I could read the last few posts because I haven't got round to playing Black Plague yet so don't want to risk any spoilers ;-)

  4. I played the game some weeks and just watched the movie.

    I think the movie is just badly executed... it doesn't adapt the games way of expressing sth. and merely correlates in the overall setting: a guy getting frustrated by his daily routine.

    e.g.: one of the most impressive moments in the game was, when u wake up and everyones gone. This couldnt happen in the film, because there was never anybody else (except the wave)

    also the game consists mainly of a guy running from left screen end to right screen end, expressing monotony, while the film character walks in all direction

    then theres is a very slow feeling of progress in the game, while the film sometimes uses fast cutting...

    finally the character in the game interacts with all kinds of things he discouveres, while the film character stays passive and merely watches things

    I don't know if another film would come closer to the games expression but it would be interesting to see. This version is just not very well done.

    the gam

  5. I'd certainly agree Everyday is a simple game once you've had your 'aha' moment, but depending on when and how that moment happens I think it's a really valid experience - as a gamer you're forced to abandon your cherished concepts of gameplay (of doing what you're told) just as the character does.

    As you point out, Harbour Master & Michael, the core tenets of the game just aren't maintained by the film, leaving behind not much more than an over familiar and possibly heavy handed message.

    @gregg b
    Thanks matey! Yes, your brother is a (fantastic) numpty ;-)